2021 NFL Draft: Odds and Predictions for This Year's Star Prospects

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 27, 2021

2021 NFL Draft: Odds and Predictions for This Year's Star Prospects

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    One of the most eventful three-day stretches of the NFL offseason is almost here. And with it, a wave of young, talented players will soon be entering the league.

    The 2021 NFL draft is set to begin Thursday, with the opening round taking place in Cleveland. It will be followed by the second and third rounds on Friday and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds on Saturday. So, many of the top prospects from the college ranks will soon find out where they'll begin their professional careers.

    Because of the coronavirus pandemic, not every player will be attending the draft in person. However, several players will be in Cleveland, including a few who will likely be among the first to come off the board in the opening round.

    Here's a look at the odds for the first three picks in the draft (via DraftKings Sportsbook), along with predictions for which player each of those teams will select.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Odds to be No. 1 pick

    Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence: -10000 (bet $10,000 to win $100)

    BYU QB Zach Wilson: +1600 (bet $100 to win $1,600)

    Ohio State QB Justin Fields: +3300

    Oregon OT Penei Sewell: +6600

    North Dakota State QB Trey Lance: +8000

    It's long been expected that Trevor Lawrence would be the first player selected in the 2021 NFL draft. And it would be a massive surprise if that doesn't end up being the case.

    Jacksonville is looking for a franchise quarterback as it enters a new era with Urban Meyer as head coach. There are a handful of top-tier QBs in this year's draft class, but there's none with as much potential and talent as Lawrence, who impressed throughout his three-year career at Clemson.

    Zach Wilson may have at least given the Jaguars something to think about, after the BYU quarterback impressed during his workouts leading up to the draft and greatly boosted his stock. But, as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. put it, it's a "no-brainer" that Lawrence is the best quarterback available this year.

    There can often be surprises on draft night with picks that quickly blow up the mock drafts that experts and analysts had been working on for months. This won't be one of them. Lawrence is heading to Jacksonville to try to help turn the team around and lead it to future success.

    Prediction: Lawrence goes No. 1 to Jacksonville

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Odds to be No. 2 pick

    BYU QB Zach Wilson: -10000

    Ohio State QB Justin Fields: +1600

    North Dakota State QB Trey Lance: +3300

    Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence: +3300

    Florida TE Kyle Pitts: +3300

    Wilson may not have done enough to unseat Lawrence as the No. 1 overall pick, but he does appear to have solidified his spot as the No. 2 selection. And it would be a big upset if Wilson doesn't immediately follow Lawrence off the board.

    The Jets made it clear they'll be using this pick on a quarterback when they traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers earlier this month. New York is entering a new era with Robert Saleh as its head coach, and that means it will again be going a different direction at quarterback.

    But Wilson could stabilize the position for the Jets for many years. He put on a show at BYU's pro day in March, when he showcased his incredible arm strength and sealed his status as one of the top players in this draft class.

    With Wilson taking over their offense, the Jets will go into 2021 looking to end the longest active playoff drought in the NFL (which extends back to 2010) and build around a quarterback who they hope can lead them to success well into the future.

    Prediction: Wilson goes No. 2 to New York

3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Odds to be No. 3 pick

    Alabama QB Mac Jones: -305

    North Dakota State QB Trey Lance: +250

    Ohio State QB Justin Fields: +500

    Florida TE Kyle Pitts: +4000

    BYU QB Zach Wilson: +4000

    There's going to be a run on quarterbacks right at the start of the draft, as the 49ers should follow the Jags and Jets in selecting a new franchise QB to build around. It appears to be the reason why San Francisco traded up from the No. 12 overall selection to this pick.

    But this decision won't be as easy as the ones to take Lawrence and Wilson by Jacksonville and New York, respectively. Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields all have different skill sets that could make them enticing options for the 49ers, who will likely be moving on from having Jimmy Garoppolo under center in the near future.

    While Lance or Fields initially seemed to be the quarterback likely headed to San Francisco, that has since changed. Now, it appears it'll most likely be Jones, as ESPN's Todd McShay reported on Monday that head coach Kyle Shanahan is in favor of the 49ers drafting the former Alabama standout.

    If Jones can build off his impressive 2020 season with the Crimson Tide and carry that over to the NFL level, then it could turn out being a smart move by San Francisco. But whether or not it ends up being the right one for the 49ers, it's the one they seem likely to make.

    Prediction: Jones goes No. 3 to San Francisco


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