Confined to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s basement in 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re just one day away from the excitement of draft day! This year the draft is being held outdoors in Cleveland with limited attendance.
Yesterday, we made NFL Betting predictions for the third pick of the NFL Draft and some offensive player props. Today, we’re focusing on defense and making predictions for the first defensive players selected in each position and overall.
Who Will Be The First Safety Drafted?
In the second part of our NFL Mock Draft, we predicted Trevon Moehrig would be the first safety taken in the draft. Moehrig, who played his college ball at TCU, led all safeties in the NCAA in pass breakups in 2020. In three seasons, Moehrig also intercepted six passes in his college career and is the heavy favorite to be the first safety drafted at -650. He’s also the only safety listed in Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects.
Jevon Holland has the second best odds at +525 and is a versatile player. The Oregon man opted out of the 2020 season but played as a strong safety, free safety, and in the nickel during his time in Eugene. Maybe a team would value his versatility enough to take him over Moehrig but even at -650 odds, Moehrig doesn’t look to be a bad pick.
Pick: Trevon Moehrig -650
Who Will Be The First Cornerback Drafted?
In the first part of our 2021 NFL Mock Draft, we had two cornerbacks go numbers nine and ten, in Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn, respectively. They were the first two defensive players off of the board in our mock draft. Surtain is the favorite to be the first cornerback taken, at -150, while Horn has +275 odds.
If the Falcons stay at number four, Dallas, at number 10, could very well be the first team to select a defensive player. If guys like Rashawn Slater, Penei Sewell, and Kyle Pitts are off of the board, the Cowboys are likely to select a cornerback. Apparently, they are torn between Horn and Surtain. The coaches reportedly like Horn while the scouting department wants to take Surtain. That said, it might make sense to bet on Horn as a value pick at +200 in what could be a toss up.
Pick: Jaycee Horn +200
Who Will Be The First Linebacker Drafted?
Micah Parsons, the favorite at -450, has been discussed as being the best defensive player in the draft solely based on the tape. His character concerns have been brought up constantly, referring to an incident in which he allegedly fought another Penn State student a few years back. Parsons was an opt out in 2020 but totaled 191 tackles (18 for a loss), 6.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and five pass breakups in his Penn State career.
Off the field issues have caused some picks in recent years, like Joe Mixon and Laremy Tunsil, to slip but it remains to be seen how this will affect teams’ perception of Parsons. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (+625) out of Notre Dame is a big play machine. But, Parsons is an elite athlete and a versatile player who teams might find too talented to pass up on.
Pick: Micah Parsons -450
Who Will Be The First Defensive Lineman Drafted?
This looks to be the most uncertain of the positional props. Jaelan Phillips from Miami is the even money favorite while Michigan’s Kwity Paye is listed at +125. Both players have gotten to this stage through circuitous routes.
Regardless, Paye has been gaining some traction as the 12th pick to the Eagles and is an explosive pass rusher who had a solid three year career at Michigan. There are perhaps less questions surrounding him than Phillips, who medically retired for a year due to concussions and transferred from UCLA to Miami for the 2020 season.
Phillips did have a better season than Paye in 2020, with 15.5 tackles for loss compared to Paye’s four. Paye, who was born in a refugee camp in Guinea, is an incredible athlete. He played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and linebacker in high school and projects as having a very high upside with his physical gifts. It could be either of these guys but I like Paye at +125 odds.
Pick: Kwity Paye +125
Who Will Be The First Defensive Player Drafted?
For reasons discussed earlier, I like Jaycee Horn at +275 over Patrick Surtain II at -150. Micah Parsons at +350 and Kwity Paye at +800 are also intriguing picks but I do think the first defensive player taken will be one of Horn or Surtain. Horn looks to have the best betting value of any of these four, as the Cowboys still appear to be considering both him and Surtain with the 10th pick.