*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change
The 2021 NFL draft is almost upon us, the annual extravaganza takes place in Cleveland on Thursday 29th April. The traditional combine did not happen this year due to COVID restrictions, which might make player evaluation a little bit tougher for the NFL teams looking to find the stars of the future.
Paddy Power will be trading live and in-play throughout the first round for the first time and Graham Byrne is joined by our NFL trader, Ian Dent, to give us his best bets of the first round.
“The 49ers gave up quite a lot of draft capital to move up to #3, and they will surely be taking a QB here,” said Ian. “The early reports were that it was Mac Jones who they were targeting as he seemed to be the best fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. There has been a drift on his price lately as Justin Fields has built up momentum. But the price looks very attractive for Jones now and I will take him to be the player San Francisco take with the #3 overall pick.”
“The running back markets have been dominated by Najee Harris and Travis Etienne, and I think the value here has to be with the Clemson stand-out, Etienne. Most draft analysts have them neck and neck which makes Etienne the more appealing of the two. I will also go under 35.5 on Etienne’s draft position,” he added.
“The top running backs these days tend to go in the late first or early second round, that is their range. I can see a running back needy team like Pittsburgh or the New York Jets pulling the trigger on Etienne and taking him before the 36th pick.”
“Trey Lance is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft. The North Dakota State product only played one game last season so there’s not a lot of tape to go on. I think the first three teams will select a QB, with Lawrence, Wilson and Jones going in that order,” he said.
“After that I don’t think Atlanta, Cincinnati or Miami will take a QB. So, it’s hard to see where Lance fits in, unless a team trades up. Lance should go over 6.5 as he is still a very raw prospect and I don’t see any team trading up into the top six to take him.”
“This market has been dominated since the book opened by Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. But Sewell sat out his final year in college and it’s worth opposing him here with Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater. This is a deep draft for offensive lineman and I think this could sway things towards Slater,” he added.
“Slater is very versatile and could just as easily slide into guard in the pros. He’s currently an 11/4 shot and that is too big for me here in what is a two-horse race.”
I’m going to try and turn the tables on Ian and the Paddy Power traders by taking Kellen Mond’s draft position to be under 89.5. Mond is a multi-year starter at Texas A+M who has been a model of consistency in the tough SEC and set several school records. He is intelligent and has the quick release NFL teams covet. He will go earlier than Ian and the traders think!
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