By Greg Frank / @G_Frank6
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Here’s a quick look five WR prospects that should go in the first 50 picks of this week’s NFL Draft:
Ja’Marr Chase – LSU: Even though Chase is a heavy favorite to be the first receiver selected on Thursday night, I still below the over/under at 5.5 on Chase’s draft position is set a little too low. We know the first three picks are going to be quarterbacks, and the main drama is focused who San Francisco selects at No. 3. Atlanta could look at quarterback as well, but if the Falcons are to secure more immediate help on offense, then Kyle Pitts makes a lot more sense than Chase. So that leaves Cincinnati at five for the under, juiced to -150/-160 at most books. But are we really to believe that Joe Burrow is running the personnel department in Cincinnati already? I’m a firm believer that when it’s all said and done the Bengals are going to come to their senses and realize that it doesn’t matter who Burrow is throwing to - even if it’s one of his college teammates - if they can’t protect him. The Bengals will have their choice of tackles to take at No. 5, and I maintain the belief that they will look to the trenches here. Lastly, we just aren’t seeing wide receivers go this high anymore. Corey Davis is the only receiver to be drafted in the top five in the last five years of drafts, and that includes last year’s draft which saw a record 13 receivers picked in the first two rounds. And oh by the way, Davis isn’t even with the Titans anymore, the team that drafted him. There are more important positions that teams bad enough to be picking in the top five will look for. At plus money odds and just one team needed to go in a different direction in order to cash this ticket, it could be quite valuable to buck the consensus here and bet Chase to be selected after Cincinanti's No. 5 overall pick.
Best Value Bet: Chase draft position over 5.5 at +110 or better
Jaylen Waddle – Alabama: Waddle is the receiver I believe the market has priced the best - at +/- 10.5, his draft position prop is high enough to where it makes you think a bit as the Giants at 11 and Eagles at 12 could both be landing spots for the Alabama burner. On the other side, none of Carolina at 8, Denver at 9 and Dallas at 10 all will be spending high picks on receivers. I believe Waddle probably ends up in Detroit at 7, but I wouldn’t feel great about propping his under due to how unlikely it is that any of those three teams at 8-10 take receivers. This eliminates the incentive for New York to trade up for Waddle, and if the Eagles liked him so much, they wouldn’t have traded back from 6 to 12 and ended up behind the Giants. There’s always a chance he goes to Miami at 6, sure, but if you like Waddle to go in the top 10, you’re better off betting on the Lions to take him than betting his under and in most cases more than triple your return.
Best Value Bet: Lions to draft Waddle at +300 or better
DeVonta Smith – Alabama
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has fallen down boards in the last couple months as the focus has shifted away from on-field production to measureables and athletic testing. Having just went through the landscape of the top 10 when it comes to who needs a receiver, I don’t believe Smith’s 11.5 draft position prop is set high enough. Could a team in the teens trade up to 11 ahead of Philly and take Smith? Sure. Do I believe the Giants are going to take a receiver at 11? No. We just finished writing up about the Lions looking at adding an Alabama receiver in this year’s draft, and well, let's just say that the arrival of former Lion Kenny Golladay in New York will steer the Giants clear of Smith. Dave Gettleman certainly paid Golladay to be a No. 1 receiver, and while the Giants are almost certain to draft a receiver at some point this week, I believe it’s probably later on and therefore a prospect that wouldn’t necessarily be counted on producing immediately. This is not to suggest that Smith’s fall is going to be seismic, but sports gambling is all about numbers and this number is not big enough, especially at near even money at most books.
Best Value Bet: Smith draft position over 11.5 at -115 or better
Rashod Bateman – Minnesota: The Gophers used Bateman primarily as a middle-of-the-field slot receiver who did most of his damage within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. While he’s no burner, he seems to be pretty polished in most facets of the position such as his football IQ, route running and ability to win at the line of scrimmage against press coverage. Ultimately, these seem like teachable skills as opposed to "God-Given Talent," which makes me believe that Bateman could end up waiting until Friday to hear his name called. He's currently being left off the first round board entirely by NFL.com's mock draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, who is one of the seven analysts we're currently tracking on our Betting Predators Consensus Mock Draft Spreadsheet. Bateman is currently also projected to go 29th by Establish The Run's Evan Silva and 31st by both Kevin Hanson (Eat, Sleep And Drink Football) and Ben Standig (The Athletic).
Best Value Bet: Bateman draft position over 27.5 at -115 or better
Kadarius Toney – Florida: You simply cannot teach speed, and Kadarius Toney’s sub 4.40 speed is sure to be enticing to teams come Thursday night and into the weekend. I mentioned just previously that I like Bateman to slip outside of the first round because his skills seem easier to find in a typical wide receiver draft prospect. Toney, on the other hand, is matched up with Bateman as an underdog in a head-to-head prop at several shops. I’d take the plus price on the Florida Gator, especially after seeing a fellow burner in Henry Ruggs go before Jerry Jeudy last year and John Ross going high in year's past as well. While you can likely teach route running and press coverage skills to a rookie wideout, you just can't teach Toney's speed.
Best Value Bet: Toney to be drafted before Bateman +120 or better