The general consensus among NFL draft experts this year is that quarterbacks are going to come off the board quickly. In fact, Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm’s most-recent mock draft has quarterbacks being selected with the first four picks with a fifth QB going ninth.
Where there is less clarity, however, is on the defensive side of the ball. The odds at BetMGM for the first defensive player selected reflect that.
Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons are the first two players listed, but both have plus odds at +150. Parsons was the betting favorite late last week, but Surtain made a move in recent days as many project him to be the top defensive back on the board.
Surtain was a three-year starter at Alabama who saw the field immediately for Nick Saban as a true freshman. And there are plenty of teams near the top of the draft who could use a plug-and-play corner like Surtain.
Edholm has Surtain going No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers, noting the archetype of defensive back new Panthers GM Scott Fitterer keyed in on as a prominent member of the scouting department for the Seattle Seahawks.
“Seattle almost exclusively drafted corners with arm lengths 32 inches or longer, and Surtain crosses that bar,” Edholm wrote.
But what about Parsons? He did not play in 2020, instead deciding to sit out amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That leaves two seasons of linebacker tape for Parsons, a five-star recruit who mainly played defensive end and running back in high school. There is still a slight learning curve for Parsons at the position, but nobody can deny his off-the-charts athleticism or his production for the Nittany Lions — 191 tackles and 18 tackles for loss in two seasons.
The potential there is extremely enticing and could lead to Parsons going off the board first among defensive prospects. Edholm has Parsons going No. 11 to the New York Giants, where he would reunite with former PSU defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who is now with the Giants.
Good value with South Carolina's Jaycee Horn
Next on MGM’s list of odds is Kwity Paye, an edge rusher out of Michigan. Pass rushers are a premium in the NFL, but this year’s crop is not considered to be especially top-heavy. Could a team lacking production off the edge jump up and nab Paye early in the first? If you think there’s a chance of that, you can grab Paye at +600.
A more enticing bet could be Jaycee Horn at +900 odds. Some evaluators have Horn ahead of Surtain as the top cornerback in the draft. Edholm has Horn going No. 12 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in dire need of help opposite Darius Slay in the secondary. In Edholm’s mock, Paye goes two spots later to the Minnesota Vikings at 14.
There’s also the case of Jaelan Phillips, the edge rusher out of Miami. Phillips began his college career at UCLA, but retired following a string of injuries. A few months later, he resurfaced at Miami and thrived in his lone season with the Hurricanes. The measurables are there, but there are medical and character concerns that have reportedly moved him down draft boards. But it only takes one team. Is he worth a flier for bettors at +1400?
After Phillips, who Edholm has going 18th overall to the Miami Dolphins, there are seven other defensive players in the first round of the latest Yahoo Sports mock draft: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins (+8000), Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (+3500), Alabama DT Christian Barmore (+3000), Northwestern CB Greg Newsome (+6600), Georgia DE Azeez Ojulari (+4000), Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley (+2500) and Penn State DE Jayson Oweh (+3000).
Here’s a larger list of odds from BetMGM:
Patrick Surtain II: +150
Micah Parsons: +150
Kwity Paye: +600
Jaycee Horn: +900
Jaelan Phillips: +1400
Gregory Rousseau: +2500
Caleb Farley: +2500
Christian Barmore: +3000
Jayson Oweh: +3000
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: +3500
Jamin Davis: +3500
Azeez Ojulari: +4000
Trevon Moehrig-Woodard: +5000
Eric Stokes: +6600
Greg Newsome: +6600
Joseph Ossai: +6600
Zaven Collins: +8000
Ronnie Perkins: +10000
Kelvin Joseph: +10000
Ifeatu Melifonwu: +10000
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