NFL Draft Betting: Who Will Be the Fourth Overall Pick?
The 2021 NFL Draft is now mere hours away.
With the first three picks in the draft all virtually certain to be quarterbacks, the first real intriguing plot point comes at pick number four, currently held by the Atlanta Falcons.
FanDuel Sportsbook is offering odds as to whom the fourth player to be taken on Thursday night will be.
|Player to Be Drafted|
|Patrick Surtain II||+6000|
Let's take a look at some of the candidates in detail.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: -125
The current favorite is Kyle Pitts, the beastly tight end out of Florida. The Falcons got some decent production from Hayden Hurst a year ago after acquiring the former first-round pick from the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason. Hurst finished third on the team with 88 targets, which he converted into 56 receptions for 571 yards and 6 touchdowns.
But Pitts is something else at the tight end spot, and prognosticators around the globe will tell you that he can be a real difference-maker from day one in the NFL. Pitts had 770 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Florida Gators in 2020 in just eight games. At 6'6" and 246 pounds, he is a matchup weapon waiting to be unleashed.
The biggest knocks on Pitts are that first-round tight ends historically do not produce at a level that ultimately justifies their value. Indeed, productive rookie tight ends are incredibly rare.
But if the Falcons have identified Pitts as a missing piece for their offense, it would stun no one if they made him the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history on Thursday.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +185
But what if the Falcons' eyes are not on 2021, and they want to take this opportunity to secure a long-term replacement for Matt Ryan while they have the chance? Or, what if they trade away this pick to a team in need of a franchise quarterback of their own?
If we see, for the first time in NFL history, four quarterbacks taken with the first four picks of a draft, then my money would be on Justin Fields out of Ohio State being the fourth.
The San Francisco 49ers are expected to have a ton of interest in Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the third pick, according to Adam Schefter. FanDuel Sportsbook is offering odds of -175 on his being the third overall pick. There are a lot of different options in play for them with the third pick, but Jones is where the oddsmakers are leaning the week of the draft.
So that would logically make Fields the next cab off the rank. The Falcons are financially locked into Ryan for at least the next two years, so if they were to select Fields here, he would have a chance to learn at the knee of the franchise's all-time passing leader. Plus it would be a homecoming for Fields, who hails from Kennesaw, Georgia and began his collegiate career with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Fields would cement his standing for this spot if the Falcons trade away the pick, with teams such as New England or Washington in desperate need of long-term solutions to their quarterback situations. So whatever team jersey he would ultimately be wearing, Fields would be my choice here.
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +1900
Another option for the Falcons, assuming they keep the pick, would be to bulk up the protection for Ryan as he enters the final stage of his NFL career.
Ryan has taken the third-most sacks in the NFL over the last three seasons with 131 and has been taken down more than 40 times in each of those campaigns. Adding a stud offensive lineman is never a bad thing to do, and if that's the direction the Falcons want to go then the smart money would be on Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
I find this selection unlikely, personally, and that is by no means a knock on Sewell. Given the offensive skill choices available to the Falcons, or other quarterback-needy teams should they flip the pick, they will not prioritize a left tackle here.
They still have Jake Matthews under contract for three more seasons, and while Sewell probably has more upside than Matthews, there are richer pickings elsewhere.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +6000
Could the Falcons sell everyone a dummy and go completely off the reservation at four in taking a defensive player? Probably not, although that does not mean their defense should be seen as a strength.
The Falcons allowed the fourth-most yards in the NFL last season with 6,374, with no team allowing more yards through the air than the 4,697 the Falcons gave up. Opposing quarterbacks completed 68% of their passes against the Falcons for an adjusted yard per attempt mark of 8.1 while tossing 34 touchdowns.
numberFire's advanced metrics ranked the Falcons' pass defense 24th in 2020.
Patrick Surtain II would be the way to go if the Falcons wanted a defensive player, with the former Alabama cornerback projected to be the first player on his side of the ball to be drafted.
Surtain finished his collegiate career with 24 passes defended along with 4 interceptions. The Falcons only need to look within their division for an example of a team selecting a player with NFL bloodlines. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Antoine Winfield Jr. last season.
But let's be honest here: the Falcons are not taking a defensive player at four. Nor is any team moving up to the fourth overall spot to take one. Not in 2021.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +10000
What's better than having two former Alabama wide receivers on your roster? Why having three, of course!
Maybe the Falcons decide that their defense is so bad and the division they play in is so offensively dominated that they simply have to keep stocking up on wide receivers.
So, given how successful they've been in taking Crimson Tide receivers in the past, namely Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, maybe they decided to make Jaylen Waddle the first wide receiver off the board in 2021?
This is a fun idea and one that would make the Falcons' offense a unit that fantasy owners would be dying to get a piece of in 2021.
But the odds are long for a reason, and that is not a knock against Waddle. Jones and Ridley are pretty much entrenched as the Falcons' starters, and the team has needs elsewhere on the offense.
Plus, and I can't stress this enough, the driver of this draft is the quarterback position. If the Falcons don't push the button on Fields, or Trey Lance (whose odds are +250), then they should find some other team that will. Waddle won't wait long to hear his name called. But it won't be by the Falcons.
All the signs seem to be pointing towards Kyle Pitts, the dynamic tight end who is sure to be a mismatch each and every week at the NFL level.
But if I were pressed, I would take Justin Fields at his +185 odds. That is of course assuming the 49ers haven't been trolling the free footballing world these past few weeks, of course, and take Fields.
If Fields is still on the board after the first three picks are in the books, the team in possession of the fourth overall pick on Thursday night will call his name. Whoever that team is.