We're on the doorstep of the 2021 NFL Draft and I couldn't be more excited about it. As much as I love combing through all of our fantastic draft coverage here at CBS Sports -- including Ryan Wilson's latest seven-round mock -- I'm itching for some actual NFL action to unfold. Alas, we're still about a week away from Roger Goodell officially putting the Jacksonville Jaguars on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick so there's still some sand left in the hourglass to pontificate about what could be on deck for us. With this remaining time in the pre-draft process, why don't we try to get our bets in order?
Below, we're going to discuss a few long-shot props that are on the table at William Hill Sportsbook that present solid value and could produce a nice little payday if they hit. Of course, we're not going to get crazy and suggest odds on a prop that absolutely won't happen like Trevor Lawrence falling to No. 2 with the New York Jets (+5000). Instead, we'll keep it somewhat plausible but largely goes against the norms of what's been out there on the rumor mill, so we have some lucrative tickets.
No. 3 overall pick: Trey Lance (+400)
When the San Francisco 49ers initially traded up to the No. 3 overall pick, the NFL world was quick to declare that it was Alabama's Mac Jones who they were targeting and the odds reflected that. However, in the weeks since that blockbuster trade, the winds have shifted a tad and now have Ohio State's Justin Fields as the favorite to come off the board third at -115. Meanwhile, Jones has dropped to the second-best odds at +110. I'd say that taking Jones at plus money is still the best move, but if we're talking about something with a little more juice, let's take a look at Lance being the guy.
After Fields and Jones, there's a bit of a drop off before we get to Lance, who is +400 to be the No. 3 pick. While Jones and Fields may be more NFL-ready than Lance, who started just 17 games at the FCS level, his raw ability could be something that head coach Kyle Shanahan finds intriguing. At 6-foot-4, 226 pounds, Lance has the build and athleticism to evolve into an elite NFL quarterback, but he just needs some time to develop. The 49ers are in a rare position to give him that time if they so choose thanks to still having Jimmy Garoppolo under contract. If Lance has the highest ceiling in the Niners' mind, they could roll with Garoppolo in 2021 and mold Lance in the background to unveil him as the starter in 2022. That doesn't seem that implausible.
Shanahan and John Lynch have attended Lance's pro day -- as they did with Jones and Fields -- so they have gotten an up-close look at the prospect. If they liked what they saw and are keeping their cards close to the vest, this ticket could be a lot of fun come draft night.
Side note: If you want to read more about Lance's rise from North Dakota State to a first-round talent, you should check out CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin's fantastic feature on the 20-year-old.
First defensive player drafted: Caleb Farley (+2500)
This is the biggest long shot on our list, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. Not too long ago, the Virginia Tech corner was looked at as arguably the top player at his position. We still have him listed as our CB1, but after undergoing a back procedure, Farley's stock is on a downward trajectory and we see him coming off the board in the later parts of the first round. While the news of Farley's back surgery raised a number of red flags, he has received positive health updates since.
"I got a lot of positive feedback from the NFL doctors," Farley told NBC Sports' Peter King in his Football Morning in America column last week. "The NFL doctors confirmed I would be ready for the season, and they told me this is definitely not a chronic thing."
If Farley and the doctors are to be taken at their word (and there's no reason to suggest why they shouldn't be), this procedure doesn't seem like it'll alter his pro career much at all. If that's the case, shouldn't we again look at him as the top player at his position? Currently, Alabama corner Patrick Surtain II owns the best odds to be the first defensive player off the board. If a club in the back half of the top 10 is looking to address its secondary with that first pick, I wouldn't be shocked if they rolled with Farley given his higher ceiling and positive health updates to this point.
Again, you're playing with fire a bit when you're talking about a player already with some injury concerns, but if he's going to be good to go for the season, I'm not sure why teams would pass on him.
Who will be the first non-QB off the board? And which running back will get drafted first? Get 10 best bets and five long shot value plays on NFL Draft props from SportsLine's No. 1 NFL expert, who is 7-3 on his top five NFL Draft picks over the last two years and hit Baker Mayfield going No. 1 at 25-to-1 odds in 2018!
Total quarterbacks drafted in Round 1: Over 5.5 (+350)
We know that there are going to be five quarterbacks taken in the first round this year: Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Fields, Jones and Lance. It would be a stunner if any one of those prospects fell out of the first as each of them has been mocked to come off the board inside the top 15 throughout the pre-draft process. The question beyond that surrounds whether or not another signal-caller gets into the mix. CBS Sports senior NFL analyst Pete Prisco has six quarterbacks coming off the board in the first round of his latest mock draft with the Bears selecting Stanford's Davis Mills at No. 20 overall.
It would be a surprising turn of events if a sixth quarterback is taken, but you also can never be too shocked to see a QB-needy team possibly reach for one in the later parts of the first round. If the "Big Five" are off the board inside the top 10 picks, could a team outside of that range that was hoping a quarterback fell pluck someone who is largely viewed as a Day Two pick? It's probably not wise, but not unprecedented. There's also the scenario of a team trading back late into the first round to take a quarterback at that spot to give the organization the flexibility of the fifth-year option.
Patriots playing position of first player drafted: Defense (+165)
Everyone believes the New England Patriots are in the market for a quarterback in the first round, which they in all likelihood are. However, there's no guarantee that one of those top five prospects at the position will be there waiting for them when they are on the clock at No. 15. In fact, it seems unlikely with various rumors swirling around about teams possibly looking to trade up. If they were to target at quarterback in the opening round, they'd almost certainly need to trade up. If the price is high, I'm not sure if Bill Belichick pulls the trigger and instead looks to address that need on Day Two where there is more value.
Under that circumstance, things are now opened up to New England with its first-round choice. If it's not a QB the Patriots pick, a wide receiver wouldn't be a bad option as it's still a glaring need on the depth chart. However, the Patriots have struggled to pick players that high at that position in recent years so I wonder if Belichick decides to zag and rolls to an area he's more comfortable with: defense. At 15, players like Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips and Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins could be available and do fill a more big-picture need for New England beyond 2021.
Falcons exact position of first player drafted: Offensive lineman (+1100)
The Falcons are the most intriguing team inside the top five. Unlike the rest where there is a relative idea of which way they'll go, Atlanta is a mystery and there's an argument to made for whichever road it wants to go down. Draft Kyle Pitts? Sure. Take a quarterback to groom behind Matt Ryan? Makes sense. Trade down to collect more assets? I could see the appeal.
If the Falcons do get hit over the head with a massive offer for a team looking to move up to No. 4 for a quarterback, this is where things could get interesting and why taking this long-shot prop with the team taking an offensive lineman could prove to be a savvy maneuver. If the Falcons move down later into the top 10 (No. 9 with the Broncos?) that could put them in the range for Oregon tackle Penei Sewell if he falls due to the quarterback cluster coming off the board. If a team farther down the draft board (Patriots at 15?) decides to trade up with Atlanta, that may put it in the range of Northwestern's Rashawn Slater, Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw or Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC.
Of course, it's much more likely that the Falcons remain at No. 4 and take either a quarterback or Pitts, but under a circumstance where a trade goes down, that's where the possibility of an offensive lineman comes into play and brings with it some value.