The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching.

NFL Draft odds are already up across major New Jersey online sportsbooks, including DraftKings and William Hill, for the April 29 event.

And expect the rumors of what the Philadelphia Eagles will do with the sixth pick are going to swirl between now and the draft. Will they select a quarterback, receiver, or tight end?

This is one of countless NJ sports betting scenarios that will be available for wagering.

Here is a closer look at ways to bet on this year’s NFL Draft.

NFL Draft 2021: First-round quarterbacks

As of now, DraftKings Sportsbook expects at least five quarterbacks to be taken in the first round.  The over 4.5 number is -670 while the under is +450.

And there is little doubt whose name will be called first. Clemenson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the first quarterback taken off the board as the overwhelming odds are at -10000. In terms of going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars goes, those odds are -5000.

BYU quarterback  Zach Wilson has the next best odds at +1100.

Basically, the Jets’ odds of drafting Lawrence with the second pick are not looking very good.

Like other NFL Drafts, the wheeling and dealing will decide when other top QBs will go. Besides Wilson, here are some of the other big names available:

  • Justin Fields, Ohio State
  • Trey Lance, North Dakota State
  • Mac Jones,  Alabama (the defending national champion)

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Is there value with running backs and wide receivers?

On the DraftKings board, there is value in the first running back taken:

  • Travis Etienne, Clemson -121
  • Najee Harris, Alabama  +100
  • Javonte Williams, North Carolina +700

Same deal with the first wide receiver taken,

Ja’Marr Chase of LSU, who sat out the 2020 season, currently leads the pack at -167.

Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of national champion Alabama is +140.

Jaylen Waddle of Alabama is +700

William Hill + individual matchups

William Hill has similar draft numbers and has put up some of the razzle-dazzle bettors love with individual matchups. Basically, this is a chance to wager on which player will be selected first.

Fields is coming off a season in which he led Ohio State to the national championship game, but ended up losing to Alabama. He is +360 to be taken ahead of Wilson, -440.

Fields (-600) is the favorite to get selected ahead of Lance (+450), too.

As the draft approaches, look for more of these wagers, including over/under on which rounds players are taken.

Who the Eagles will draft at No. 6?

It’s no secret the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a 4-11-1 season, have a lot of needs to address. And if you look at any of the mock drafts out there, the selection varies.

One option is addressing the quarterback position, again, and taking Fields. With Carson Wentz recently being traded to Indianapolis, there are questions about whether or not Jalen Hurts is the Eagles quarterback of the future.

Wide receiver is even a bigger need, especially after cutting ties with veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. So going with Chase or Smith could make sense. But will the Eagles be willing to use a high first-round pick on a wide receiver? Last season they selected Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick.

Another option is tight end Kyle Pitts of Florida.

Looking at NFL Draft bets with value

For bettors, the value may lay near the bottom of the first round and in subsequent rounds, which are more difficult to handicap.

But to understand it all, here’s the first-round draft order:

The early consensus is the Jags will take Lawrence and the Jets will select Wilson with the first two picks.

What the Miami Dolphins will do with the No. 3 pick is more of a question mark at the moment. They could take Chase, Waddell, or trade down to No. 8 with the Carolina Panthers if the price is right. This would enable Carolina to take a QB, and that could mean Fields.

That would leave the Falcons with Lance, perhaps.

Cincinnati is projected to take top lineman Penei Sewell of Oregon to protect star quarterback Joe Burrow, who was injured last season after a sack. DraftKings has Powell at -1000 to be the first offensive linemen taken.

The Eagles could be selecting between Jones, Lance, or going a different way.

Either way, it will be a head-scratcher if they take a young QB in two successive drafts. Hurts was their second-round pick last year and the trade of Wentz is supposed to solidify him as the starter.

Eagles NFL Draft needs overview

The Eagles need to bolster their offensive line dramatically to protect whoever is under center.  They were the most-sacked team in the NFL last year, at 4.1 per game.

Trading a QB and then drafting one will hurt team chemistry.

When the Eagles recently dealt Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, it was also announced as a fait accompli that the Eagles would select a QB with the first pick.

There’s no room for two young stars here.

And guess what happens when even top quarterbacks get pressured? They look average. Both Lawrence and Fields were outplayed by opposing quarterbacks in their final games

Fields was also hurt in his breakout game against Clemson because of a hit to his ribs. He did not look sharp in the national final against Alabama.

This is why you need a strong line.

As an NFL rookie, Burrow was the imminent savior he was projected to be for the Bengals through nine-and-a-half games. The top pick in the 2020 draft performed like a franchise player until being sacked, injured, and lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Burrow threw for more yards than Wentz and he missed nearly half the season. But the Bengals did not protect their investment, and Burrow’s career could be in jeopardy if he gets another serious injury.

Maybe go wide receiver or tight end?

If the Eagles don’t see a lineman they like, putting Smith or Chase alongside  Reagor in the lineup with Hurts would add an explosive speed element to the Eagles offense.

Smith’s 2019 teammates Henry Ruggs (Raiders) and Jerry Jeudy (Broncos) became immediate NFL impact players. Why wouldn’t he?

What about Pitts? Besides having hometown roots, he is a tight end with wideout speed. Four tight ends have been picked in the first round in the last 20 years.

Will Pitts be number five?

Previous number one draftees in this spot were good, but none panned out to first-round value. Think about Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Travis Kelce, and other elite tight ends. They were not taken in the opening round. And the Eagles already have a good tight end in Dallas Goedert.

But Pitts has both strength and deceptive speed. He’s viewed as the top tight end in college football.  And GM Howie Roseman graduated from Florida.  Lobbying, gentle or not,  plays into who gets picked.

The draft board tells you why the Eagles held out unsuccessfully for a first-round pick for Wentz. Picks help make teams avoid looking bad when they have to sell low. But the tactic can be expensive.

Indianapolis did not want to part with its 21st pick in exchange for Wentz. It meant that the Colts would not have gotten one of the top 50 players coming out of college, in exchange for an average quarterback. The Eagles, meanwhile, would have gotten three of the first 38.

The Colts refused to budge and lower-level picks were used to move Wentz.

It will be interesting to watch the board between now and the draft. NJ online sportsbooks are just getting warmed up with ways to bet on the 2021 NFL Draft.

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

 

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.