The NFL draft is finally here. The first round gets underway on Thursday night and the feeling is that this draft will be totally unpredictable. While the uncertainty surrounding the draft might scare some people off from betting on it, it also presents some potential moneymaking opportunities at good odds. If you've been following the mock drafts and talking points of the experts, you might have noticed that a lot of them are predicting a run on wide receivers.
How many wide receivers will go?
One of the developing trends across the NFL in recent seasons is the rise in value of wide receivers. Teams are beginning to truly appreciate what a star receiver could do for a team. We've seen elite young wide-outs like Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson enter the league via the draft over the last two seasons. We've seen teams give up a boatload of assets to trade for the likes of Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill. In addition, we have seen slightly above average receivers like Christian Kirk get paid in free agency.
With the draft offering teams an opportunity to add young and dynamic talent to their wide receiver room while also giving them financial flexibility and cost control, it's no surprise to hear that there might be a run on receivers in the first round. Currently at BetMGM, you can bet on whether you think there will be over or under 6.5 receivers drafted in the first round.
In 2021, we had five receivers go in the first round (Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Kadarius Toney and Rashod Bateman). There were six receivers drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft. Will we pass these numbers on Thursday?
The potential first-round receivers
There are nine receivers that have been at some point mocked in the first round over the past few weeks. Some are more certain to go in the first round than others, but the following nine receivers have received some first-round buzz:
The sure things
Garrett Wilson (Ohio State): The Ohio State product Garrett Wilson is the betting favorite to be the first wide receiver drafted. Wilson's projected over/under draft position is set at pick 9.5.
Jameson Williams (Alabama): Jameson Williams out of Alabama has the second best odds of being the first receiver off the board at +225. The over/under for Williams is set at pick 12.5.
Drake London (USC): Drake London is +250 to be the first receiver drafted.
Almost certainly first rounders
Chris Olave (Ohio State): Olave formed a formidable duo with Wilson in college, and while he might not go as early as his teammate, he is expected to go mid-first round.
Treylon Burks (Arkansas): The former Razorback is 20-to-1 to be the first wide receiver taken. His over/under for draft position is set at pick No. 23.5.
Potentially sneaking into Round 1
George Pickens (Georgia): He missed a lot of the season due to injury, but the tape looks good.
Jahan Dotson (Penn State): Dotson can stretch a defense and rarely dropped passes at Penn State.
Skyy Moore (Western Michigan): Very productive at a smaller school, he's received first-round buzz.
Christian Watson (North Dakota State): At 6-foot-4, 208 pounds, Watson ran a 4.36 second 40-yard dash.
In order to cash the over on 6.5 receivers drafted in the first round, we'd need just two of the receivers from the bottom tier to sneak into the first round.
Teams needing receivers
Now that we determined that there's enough wide receiver talent in this draft, we must determine if there's enough teams interested in drafting them. Which teams could potentially look at a receiver in Round 1?
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons pick at eight, and Atlanta is -125 to use their first pick of the draft on a wide receiver.
New York Jets: The Jets will likely draft a receiver with their second first-round pick at pick No. 10. If they don't, that means they probably used the pick to trade for an established receiver and the new team would likely have a rather large hole to fill.
Washington Commanders: Picking at 11, oddsmakers have Washington at +125 to draft a wide receiver, making that position a slight favorite over defensive back (+150).
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have two first-round picks, and the oddsmakers have wide receiver as the most likely position the Eagles will address (+200).
New Orleans Saints: It seems certain the Saints will use one of their two picks on an offensive lineman, but the intrigue comes with the other pick. Will it be quarterback? If not, wide receiver seems like a likely pivot.
New England Patriots: The Patriots are favored to draft a defensive back in Round 1 at +150, but wide receiver is the second most likely pick according to the betting odds.
Green Bay Packers: Green Bay can't possibly pass on a wide receiver again, right? After trading Davante Adams and letting Marquez Valdes-Scantling walk, the hole is obvious.
Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk left for Jacksonville. Are the Cardinals comfortable with DeAndre Hopkins coming off an injury, the aging A.J. Green and the undersized Rondale Moore? Arizona is +300 to draft a receiver, the second most likely pick for them according to the odds.
Dallas Cowboys: Amari Cooper was traded to Cleveland. While offensive line seems like the most likely pick, oddsmakers view wide receiver as the second most likely pick for Dallas.
Kansas City Chiefs: There's an obvious hole with the trade of Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs are -110 to draft a receiver with their first pick.
That's ten teams that could conceivably draft a wide receiver with their first pick. Now, not all of these teams will go wide receiver, but we need just seven of them to draft a pass catcher in order to cash the over on this prop.
There'a also three teams without first-round picks that could feel the need to trade into the first round to get their guy. The Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts have top-10 picks in the second round, and maybe they feel the need to get into the draft on Thursday night. The 49ers would likely get a first-round pick if they decide to trade Deebo Samuel, and then they would have an obvious hole to fill. While we're not banking on any of these outcomes, they could end up working in our favor as well.