An NFL Draft like no other before it will unfold April 23-25. Due to the unique circumstances brought about the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s proceedings, which initially would have marked Nevada’s debut as a host state, will be held from a television studio and feature live looks of teams making their draft selections.
While the logistics and format of this year’s edition of the NFL’s annual “player lottery” will certainly be outside the norm in many ways, there is one aspect surrounding it that thankfully remains unscathed – betting. NFL Draft prop wagers could certainly experience the height of their popularity this year, considering all other major sports are currently shuttered.
NFL draft odds: First WR drafted
The WR market for the 2020 draft is headlined by Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, while the X-factor of the group – one who improved his stock with a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine – is Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III.
How to bet on first WR drafted
One of the most common NFL Draft prop wagers are those that involve betting on which player will be the first drafted at each position. To find these wagers in an online sportsbook, click the NFL tab to navigate toward the 2020 Draft section. Once there, click on “First Pick by Position” to view the players in the market and their corresponding odds.
Each player will have a number next to their name that is three, four or even five digits in length, along either a plus or minus sign next to it. Players with a minus sign next to their number are considered to have a higher probability of being the first player drafted at the position than those with a plus sign.
The higher a number with a minus sign attached is, the higher the probability he has of being the first player selected at the position. Conversely, the higher a number with a plus sign attached is, the lower the probability he is the first player selected at the position.
To utilize an example from this year’s draft, say odds-on favorite Jeudy is carrying a -110 figure to be the first receiver taken. That means a bettor will have to wager $110 to win $100 that Jeudy is the first wideout taken. Then, say Lamb carries a price of +160 as the second-likeliest player to be the first receiver off the board. In his case, bettors will win $160 for every $100 they wager on Lamb as the first wideout taken.
NFL Draft: 2020 WR profiles
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Jeudy parlayed a starting opportunity over his junior and senior seasons into a pair of 1,000-yard campaigns and a combined 24 touchdown receptions over that span. Jeudy boasts a 4.4-second 40 time and is lauded for having an impressive second gear, but he also put in plenty of work as a receiver in the short and intermediate passing windows in his junior 2019 campaign.
Jeudy has been projected as a target of the Raiders in many mocks, although the Jets, who just lost their biggest downfield threat Robby Anderson in free agency to the Panthers, are another natural fit and currently select one pick higher than Las Vegas at No. 11 overall. It seems highly unlikely both teams pass up a shot at a receiver given their needs at the position. Jeudy offers the speed each team covets at the position, although it bears noting New York did partly address the loss of Anderson’s big-play capability with the recent signing of talented but inconsistent Breshad Perriman.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Like Jeudy, Lamb wrapped up an impressive college career at a big-name school with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns and added a combined 25 touchdown grabs over his sophomore and junior seasons. Lamb boasts solid height at 6-foot-2 and carries a bit more weight than Jeudy at 198 pounds. He is, however, a tad slower with a 4.5-second time in the 40, but he actually has more game reps under his belt after logging 13 games of action as a freshman.
Lamb’s host of junior-year accolades include first-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big 12 honors. He’s not far behind Jeudy in terms of pedigree and could conceivably pull an upset and be selected before his Crimson Tide counterpart. Lamb could also slide right into the lineups of either the Jets or Raiders and serve as a formidable weapon for Sam Darnold or Derek Carr.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: There’s always the possibility of a wild-card selection in any draft, and Ruggs is shaping up as a potential one this year. The speedster significantly boosted his stock in one of the most visible ways possible – by blowing away the radar gun at the combine. Ruggs put up an eye-popping 4.27 40-time, which helps prop up his value after a couple of solid but not elite sophomore and junior seasons during which he averaged 43 receptions, 743.5 yards and nine touchdowns.
Speed has traditionally been one of the biggest enticements for any team to blow up its original draft plans and perhaps swing a trade to move up in the first round. Interestingly, NFL.com Chad Reuter has the Broncos doing just that in his latest mock draft and vaulting over the Jets and Raiders by trading with the Cardinals into the No. 8 spot to land Ruggs. Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco interestingly also has Ruggs as the first WR taken, albeit at the Jets’ No. 11 spot.
Justin Jefferson, LSU: Jefferson is a distant fourth in the First WR drafted odds table, but some team will acquire a talented wideout with plenty of upside whenever he is selected. The LSU product decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility after exploding for a 111-1,540-18 line as a junior, with his reception tally serving as a team- and co-FBS –high figure. Jefferson then generated a strong 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, and he’s been lauded by draft experts for a 6-foot-1 frame that affords him an excellent catch radius.
Jefferson’s extreme long-shot status to be the first receiver taken is seemingly warranted despite his eye-popping final college season, as Jeudy and Lamb particularly have proven their ability to offer strong production over longer periods.
NFL Draft WR history
Here is a list of the first wide receivers taken in each NFL Draft going back to 2010.
|Year||Team||Player||College||Pick (No. overall)|
|2017||Tennessee||Corey Davis||Western Michigan||5|
|2013||St. Louis||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||8|
|2012||Jacksonville||Justin Blackmon||Oklahoma St.||5|
|2010||Denver||Demaryius Thomas||Georgia Tech||22|
NFL Draft betting strategy and trends
A total of 34 receivers were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft between 2010 and 2019. The apex was 2015, when a total of six wideouts were taken in the opening round. Notably, the last two drafts have seen the fewest first-round selections at the position over that sample – two apiece. Meanwhile, A.J. Green (2011), Sammy Watkins (2014) and Amari Cooper (2015) all share the distinction of being the highest overall selection at the position during that span. Each was taken No. 4 overall by the Bengals, Chiefs and Raiders, respectively.
The combination of legitimate first-round talent and team needs will likely lead to a return to a more active year at the position than the last pair of campaigns. NFL.com’s Dan Parr has the Jets, Raiders, Broncos, Eagles, Packers, Vikings and 49ers as teams with first-round selections and pressing needs at receiver entering the draft.
Notably, four of those clubs – the Jets, Raiders, 49ers and Broncos – are currently all picking within No. 11 (Jets) and No. 15 (Broncos). Therefore, as cited in Ruggs’ entry earlier, Denver could potentially leapfrog the other two clubs they know will be honing in on the position if there’s a player – be it Ruggs, Jeudy or Lamb – that they want to make sure and lock in.
None of those four teams’ current administrations have ever selected a receiver in the first round. The most recent
first-round wideout taken by one of the clubs was the Raiders’ selection of Cooper back in 2015. The 49ers nabbed A.J. Jenkins with the 30th overall pick back in 2012 as well, while the Broncos last took a receiver with their first pick back in 2010, when they landed Demaryius Thomas.