Betting News & Analysis

Betting Market-Implied 2021 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers take Justin Fields, Atlanta nabs Kyle Pitts and New England moves up for a QB

It’s 100% mock draft season at this point. We at PFF are not above this, as there is a mock draft for every point of view on our site. Most of these mock drafts come with the disclaimer that they are not trying to be predictive, but rather “what (they) would do if in charge.” This is very useful, as differences in opinion help us learn more than herd mentality does.

Since people bet on the NFL draft, we can add an additional market element to the typical approach. The PFF Forecast and the PFF Daily Betting Podcast have spent the better part of a month and a half scouring the markets looking for value, and these markets have moved significantly, as evidenced by the fact that Mac Jones’ draft prop number was 17.5 less than a month ago.  

The mock draft below is based on our interpretation of the current betting markets, with lines referenced from our friends at DraftKings and other places. This is a little bit different than Benjamin Robinson’s great work on Grinding the Mocks, which uses mock draft data and models built from them to make predictions on draft position. Both are wisdom-of-the-crowd approaches, but the crowds differ.

By its very nature this mock is intended to be predictive, but we did make a few editorial assumptions here. All lines are as of April 6, although previous prices were taken into consideration as well. Enjoy! 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence is currently -10000 to be the No. 1 overall pick, which hasn’t changed for quite some time. There’s so much to like about the player that changed college football in January 2019. The market isn’t overthinking this and neither should you.

2. New York Jets — QB Zach Wilson, BYU

Wilson, who we projected in this piece, was in the -160 range to be the second-overall pick as recently as a few weeks ago. He then jumped out to -300 and then back to -200 before the 49ers trade. He is now -2000 to be the second overall pick after Monday’s Sam Darnold trade, as the smokescreens that Darnold is still the Jets quarterback of the future were largely and rightly ignored by the marketplace leading up to it.

3. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami Dolphins) — QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

This is where the first bit of uncertainty sits, as Fields (+125) is anywhere from outright favorite to co-favorite to go in this spot, rivaled by Mac Jones (+125, down from +150 when we started writing this) and Trey Lance (+250, up from +200). An interesting nugget, though, is that Fields is currently more likely to be picked after No. 3 (-122) than before it (+110) per recently released over/unders on FanDuel. Listen to the PFF Forecast from last week, where former Shanahan quarterback and coach of Fields, Sage Rosenfels, talks about how Fields is the logical choice here. (We project Fields in this piece.)

4. Atlanta Falcons — TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

Much like with the Fields pick, there is a favorite here, and it’s Pitts (+125 to be first non-quarterback selected, with Penei Sewell second at +180 and Ja’Marr Chase third at +225). But it’s far from a lock that he goes here. For one, Mac Jones (-200) has the same odds as Pitts to go in the top five, and Trey Lance (-134) has a non-trivial chance of being traded up for as well, with Denver and New England likely teams that want to make this move. If the Falcons stay put, then we expect a skill position player with Pitts being the favorite to go specifically to Atlanta (+250), per FoxBet. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals — OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

Sewell is the easy favorite to be the first lineman chosen and one of the minus-priced options to be picked in the top five (-150). He’s also the favorite to be the Bengals’ first pick at -250, which is down from -333, per FoxBet. Sewell’s price to be the first lineman taken has dipped from a high above -1000 to -625 after his pro day and back to -835, possibly due to the size of his arms. This is of course silly given everything we know about players at the position historically but should be respected when trying to predict what will happen at the end of the month. We wrote about how Sewell is one of the best prospects we’ve seen from an analytical standpoint here.  

6. Denver Broncos (via Philadelphia Eagles through Miami Dolphins) — QB Mac Jones, Alabama

This is the first bit of editorial freedom we’ve taken, but given that Jones’ over/under is now sitting at 6.5, this is the place where it makes sense for the second trade up. Given that the Dolphins have been sharp for the majority of the past two years, it’s hard to imagine them trading back up, which was a -EV move, just to take the third-best non-quarterback. Denver and New England will likely be desperate to get their guy at the quarterback position, and if it plays out like this, Miami should be able to make the sum of the three trades significantly +EV.  We wrote about Lance’s projections, which are lower than the top three guys, here.  

Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) reacts after carrying the ball for a first down against the Oklahoma Sooners during the third quarter of the 2019 Peach Bowl. Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

7. Detroit Lions — WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

A slightly unexpected drop for Ja’Marr Chase still leads to him being the first wide receiver off the board at an 80% break-even probability, but he falls outside of the top five (break-even of 44%). Chase is the third-most likely player to be the first non-quarterback off the board, but his status hinges on Atlanta and Cincinnati looking his direction. With four quarterbacks taken before them, and their place atop next year's draft nearly cemented, Detroit is quite clearly the worst landing spot for any rookie selected in the top 10. They can wait a year on the quarterback position.  

8. Carolina Panthers — LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Parsons is favored to be the first defensive player chosen (-134) and a favorite to be picked in the top 10 (-400) but not the top five (+700). Carolina went all defense in last year’s draft, but with the trade of Darnold and the existence of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, they are probably still in line for some defense here. 

9. Miami Dolphins (through Denver Broncos) — WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Tua is reunited with the player that caught his game-winning touchdown pass to conclude the 2017 FBS title game. Smith was the most valuable non-quarterback in college football last year using our PFF WAA model and is currently going off as +500 to be the first wide receiver taken and -125 to be taken in the top 10. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything Miami does here, including trading this pick.

10. Dallas Cowboys — CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama

Prior to the Darnold trade, this would have been another bit of editorial freedom, as Surtain is actually the second favorite to be the first defensive player chosen (+180) behind Micah Parsons (-134). Without Carolina, it would have been odd to see Parsons go to anyone until Dallas or New York. Surtain is -250 to be taken in the top 10, and it makes sense that Dallas would want another cornerback to shore up a defense that was their weak point a season ago. 

11. New England Patriots (through New York Giants) — QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

The Bill Belichick-Joe Judge connection collaborates to get Belichick a quarterback of the future in Lance, who is admittedly an underdog to fall even this far (he’s -500 to be a top-10 pick and his over/under is 7.5, per FanDuel), but his stock has been falling for things like the No. 3 pick, so it’s not a stretch that he could fall to 11. This would represent a decent value for the Pats.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (via San Francisco 49ers through Miami Dolphins) — EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

After weeks with Gregory Rousseau atop the edge market, a great pro day performance by Paye and a poor showing Rousseau made Paye the co-favorite to be the first defensive lineman chosen (+125). It’s important to note, though, that Paye was the favorite at +100, with Rousseau’s college teammate Jaelin Phillips at +150. They now have the same odds on DraftKings to be the first chosen at their position.  

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) runs for a touchdown after catching a pass from Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

13. Los Angeles Chargers — WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Perpetually starved for linemen, the Chargers get what is, in our opinion, the biggest steal of the draft here in Waddle. The Bama WR getting all the way to 13 is probably a surprise for many, but given the way the market is valuing the wide receivers (the prop for the number of wide receivers taken in Round 1 is 4.5, -167 to the over, down from -200 last week) means that, like last year, they are likely to fall more than we think.  

14. Minnesota Vikings — OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Speaking of perpetually starved for linemen, the Vikings get a tackle to pair with 2018 second-round choice Brian O’Neill in Slater, who is currently +400 to be the first lineman chosen. The market sees a lot of linemen going in Round 1 (6.5, -150 to the over), which means this pick could go a bit earlier than we have it pegged at the moment.  

15. New York Giants (through New England Patriots) — OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

After drafting Andrew Thomas high in the 2020 draft, the Giants go back to the well here to pluck from a good crop of offensive linemen.  With Thomas, Matt Peart and Darrisaw in the mix, along with Kenny Golladay, there will be fewer excuses for Daniel Jones moving forward.  

16. Arizona Cardinals — CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Jaycee Horn appears to be the sole benefactor of Caleb Farley’s back issues, with Horn gaining the most ground in the first cornerback off the board market. Surtain has extended out as the favorite, but Horn should be No. 2 off the board. The vast majority of mock draft selections have a cornerback taken at 16, with Horn selected in almost 20% of fan simulated outcomes. 

Nov 30, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium. Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

17. Las Vegas Raiders — WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Over 4.5 wide receivers selected saw some buyback after moving out to a 67% breakeven probability. Ideally Bateman is selected in the teens for this to be an actual reality. Nelson Agholor isn’t who you want leading your team in route percentage, and with him gone Las Vegas continues to have more questions than answers. Bateman is the quintessential high-floor wide receiver. After receiving little from Ruggs in 2020, the Raiders could opt for the safe play this season. 

18. Miami Dolphins — S Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, TCU

Moehrig continues to push out as a heavy favorite for the first safety off the board, with break even odds at 80%. He is not in discussion for the first defensive player off the board but fills a need for the Dolphins after having the sixth-worst coverage grade in the NFL last season. 

19. Washington Football Team — LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

The market’s most likely outcome is between three and four linebackers coming off the board in Round 1. With Parsons as the most likely first defensive player drafted, Owusu-Koramoah has separated as the clear No. 2. This should start a run on box defenders, with the better teams looking to quickly upgrade their defenses. Owusu-Koramoah has been by far the most selected player in our simulations of Washington’s outcomes. 

20. Chicago Bears — LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky

This would appear to be a disappointing outcome for Bears’ fans, as they are now forced to move up if they want a chance at one of the top five quarterbacks. Going defense at this pick won’t help an offense that graded in the bottom half of the NFL last season. The market does expect more defensive players in the latter half of the first round, which is why we expect Davis to be the pick at 20. 

21. Indianapolis Colts — EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

The Colts overachieved on defense last season and are a prime candidate to regress in 2021. Top-end talent can easily mask other weaknesses, which is what Phillips offers as a former five-star recruit. Our big board doesn’t agree with him being the second edge defender off the board, but at a 44% break-even percentage, the first defensive lineman off the board still has him listed as the co-favorite. 

22. Tennessee Titans — EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (classified as LB on DraftKings)

The edge/linebacker tweener is tied for the third-most likely odds to be the first linebacker drafted. He is the best pure speed rusher according to our big board, which appeals to teams looking to force quick pressure. Every defensive position is a need for the Titans, but most mock draft simulations have them filling the No. 2 wide receiver role. That, again, doesn’t fit with the market expectation for how the latter half of the first round plays out. 

Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

23. New York Jets — CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Farley’s back injury has caused him to tumble at least 10 picks, reinforcing his profile of a high-risk, high-reward selection. The market went from leaning toward over 3.5 cornerbacks selected to leaning under 4.5 cornerbacks selected within the past week (-278 to the under), which hinges partially on Farley not falling too far at this point in the draft. Farley possesses the highest range of draft position outcomes for any player projected into the first round. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers — DI Christian Barmore, Alabama

Barmore’s stock continues to trend in the wrong direction, as he is now the fourth-most likely defensive lineman off the board. The true value of interior defenders still isn’t fully understood, but the market seems to be gravitating away from an expectation that they will be highly sought after. Pittsburgh has always built its defense with a certain mentality, and Barmore is the perfect addition to an already impressive front seven. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars — OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

After securing their quarterback for the next decade, the Jaguars are heavily incentivized to protect him. Tackle is the most common selection in our mock draft simulator, but we prefer Alijah Vera-Tucker to the more popular Tevin Jenkins. The Jaguars should be ecstatic to have their pick of the next four lineman options and begin a late run of big men at the end of the first round. 

26. Cleveland Browns — CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Newsome gets us to the limit of under 4.5 cornerbacks selected, with the expectation that the Browns continue to make shrewd investments in the most important positions. They ranked in the bottom half of the league in opponent-adjusted coverage grade and need to add help on the outside. No player improved his stock more than Newsome last season, as he has moved up to the third-best cornerback on our big board. 

27. Baltimore Ravens — WR Terrace Marshall, LSU

Marshall brings home the over 4.5 wide receiver market, which, while going down in price, is still a favorite. Marshall has the exact opposite frame of Hollywood Brown and had the early breakout season that is often highlighted come draft season. There are a number of reasons why Marshall should be the selection over the trio of slot receivers still available. 

Sep 12, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi (52) prepares to block Texas El Paso Miners defensive lineman Praise Amaewhule (23) in the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

28. New Orleans Saints — OT Sam Cosmi, Texas

Sam Cosmi can be considered as NFL ready as any tackle prospect outside of Penei Sewell after three straight seasons with at least an 80-point offensive grade. In order to get over 6.5 offensive lineman, we have to see the best teams in the NFL focus on protecting their franchise quarterbacks. 

29. Green Bay Packers — OT Tevin Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Packers fans will most likely be livid when they once again bypass the wide receiver position, as 60% of mocks have them selecting that or the cornerback position. The market expects a less appealing outcome, and with questions for key lineman we should see the Packers address the position given the deep class. 

30. Buffalo Bills — EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State

Oweh experiences a slight drop despite being the third-most likely defensive lineman off the board. After moving up to the second-best edge player in our latest big board, it’s possible the market is sleeping on Oweh as a high-end prospect. Buffalo had the fifth-best opponent-adjusted pass rush grade but should continue to focus on a high-variance defensive approach. Oweh fits into that mentality with the perfect profile to be successful at the NFL level. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs — OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

Eichenberg is being overlooked in a deep tackle class, which provides the perfect opportunity for the Super Bowl favorites. He hasn’t allowed a sack in two seasons and has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this class. Given the current makeup of the Chiefs roster, no pick makes more sense than Eichenberg to Kansas City. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — RB Najee Harris, Alabama

Look, we aren’t condoning it, but the market is implying at least one running back gets selected in the first round, and Harris is the favorite at -125. After re-signing Playoff Lenny, this certainly isn’t a need, but on a team with few holes we could once again see the Super Bowl champions make a slight misstep at the end of the first round. 

Overview of the Totals, Given the Market:

QB: 5 chosen (line is 5.5, under -500)

RB: 1 (1.5, under -305) 

WR: 5 (4.5, over -167. Down from -200 recently)

TE: 1 (1.5, under -455. Pushed out from -400 recently)

OL: 7 (6.5, over -150)

DL/LB: 8 (4.5 defensive linemen, under -125; 4.5 linebackers, under -167. Was -225 recently)

CB: 4 (4.5, under -178. Was 3.5, over -177 recently)

S: 1 (0.5, over -278)

Offense: 19 (18.5 +110 over, down from -121 recently)

Defense: 13 (13.5 +110 under, down from -121 under)

Bets We Like Based on This Analysis:

OVER 4.5 WR Taken (-167) 

OVER 18.5 offensive players taken +110

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