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Betting on the First WR Selected in the 2021 NFL Draft

| April 26, 2021 6:08 am PDT

With the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, NFL teams are putting in their last bit of research as they plan to improve their rosters.

NFL fans are tracking every rumor, too, trying to get an idea of what their favorite franchises might do.

If they play their cards right, they can combine NFL team tendencies, research, and betting odds into perfect bets that can bring home some cash.

One bet that is out there is which wide receiver will be taken first in the 2021 NFL Draft. The consensus says LSU phenom Ja’Marr Chase will be the guy, but there could be money in another option.

Let’s break down the odds for the first wide receiver drafted, and gauge which bet is best for bettors this year.

Odds for 1st Wide Receiver Drafted in 2021

Ja’Marr Chase-750
DeVonta Smith+600
Jaylen Waddle+650

Okay, so it’s pretty much a lock that Chase is going to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. The bigger question for bettors may end up being which team will draft Ja’Marr Chase.

Ideally, that is another prop that the top 2021 NFL Draft betting sites will offer, but hey, let’s tackle one thing at a time.

The -750 odds over at Sportsbetting.ag indicate Chase is a massive favorite to be the first WR drafted this year, but you do need to consider the other side of things.

For one, Henry Ruggs III was not the consensus #1 wide receiver going into last year’s draft. Who was the first wide receiver selected? You guessed it; it was Ruggs.

That is likely the biggest piece of evidence to suggest Chase won’t be the guy, but it may be worth it to simply break down the other two options before placing a bet.

Why DeVonta Smith Could be Picked First

Chase is the consensus favorite to be the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft, but it’s certainly worth noting that the guy didn’t even play last year.

That is a huge concern for NFL GMs, while it’s also difficult to look past the explosive Smith, who happened to win the Heisman Trophy this past season.

Just look at these absurd video game numbers he produced in 2020.

Catches Receiving Yards Touchdowns
117 1,856 23

If you’re concerned Smith was just a baller in the weirdest college football season ever, keep in mind that he set up the foundation for his epic year by churning out 1,256 receiving yards and 14 scores the year prior.

Elite receivers grow on trees at Alabama, but that can’t take anything away from Smith’s dominant skill-set, which includes elite route-running, exceptional YAC ability, and unteachable explosiveness.

Smith lacks ideal size, but he is otherwise the total package, and outside of a no-show by Chase, was the unquestioned top receiver in college football this past season.

Why Jaylen Waddle Could be Taken First

Jaylen Waddle

It’s going to be hard to talk up Waddle as a better bet over Smith, seeing as he was the latter’s teammate at Alabama.

This wouldn’t be the first time where it’s arguable that the secondary option is actually potentially the better NFL talent, of course.

Just look at last year, when the more explosive Henry Ruggs III went ahead of the more refined Jerry Jeudy.

Could that be the case again in 2021 with Waddle?

Nevermind the negative history of Heisman Trophy winners. That’s something you always carry in the back of your mind, but Waddle is honestly just as explosive as Smith, if not more so.

It’s tough to fully grade him based on 2020, of course, as he was limited to just six games due to injuries.

In that span, Waddle still made his presence felt with 591 yards and four scores (21.1 yards per catch) on just 28 receptions.

He’s another guy that has size (and perhaps durability) concerns. Still, he is a tantalizing talent with the ability to flip the switch and burn defenses from anywhere on the field.

Will Ja’Marr Chase Be the First WR Drafted in 2021?

Ja'Marr Chase

There is no getting around how explosive both DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle have been.

They are elite talents for the next level due to their game-changing speed and are undeniably locks for the first round.

However, when looking at the best wide receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft, even a year away from the game can’t hide the fact that Ja’Marr Chase is the most complete, most dominant option available.

I’d personally be a bit scared of that season out of football, but Chase was the driving force behind LSU’s title run when he racked up an insane 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The guy was just unstoppable down the field, and he torched opposing defensive backs with absurd regularity.

Chase has better size than the other two receivers vying to be taken first, and a 4.38 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day erases any concerns about his speed and athleticism (if there were any).

To be fair, I don’t think teams can go wrong here. Chase is just the best overall wide receiver prospect, and his -750 odds probably tell you all you need to know.

Chase will be the first wide receiver drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft, so if you are just looking for an answer to that question, there you go.

The -750 odds won’t get you much back, though. In the name of value, I’d target Smith, who offers just as much upside in terms of talent and is a way more appealing bet at his +600 price tag.

Love betting on the NFL Draft? Get amped up for this year’s draft with some extra draft content below.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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