With the NFL Draft just around the corner it’s time to finalize some bets. There’s no value in Trevor Lawrence going #1 overall, so looking at the defensive side of the ball, who will be the first player chosen on that side of the ball? Read below for an in-depth analysis of which defensive star will be picked first and a free pick to play at sportsbooks.
Who Could Be the First Defensive Player Taken?
It looks like it’s a two horse race in this market, with stud linebacker Micah Parsons and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain topping the market. Fellow CB Jaycee Horn isn’t far behind Parsons according to the odds at the best betting sites.
Surtain has established himself atop the market at minus money, while Parsons is around +250, so there might be some value in making him your selection.
How Did He Do in College?
We’re relying on 2019 tape to judge Parsons after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, but despite that he’s rated as the best LB in the class. He is in the top 5 on a lot of people’s big boards after putting on the show at Penn State.
He’s quick, and possesses the ability to play a number of spots, which he does very well. His short area play is excellent and he’s equally as good as a pass rusher and at chasing the ball carrier. He possesses hard tackling and is able to stop players when they get going.
There are concerns over his mental awareness and he can over-run the ball carrier, but he should be a quick learner in the pro-game and would be a day 1 starter.
What’s the Scenario for the Draft Then?
With the first three picks practically guaranteed to be Quarterbacks and the Falcons, Bengals, Dolphins, and Panthers at 4, 5, 6 and 8 respectively all likely to take offensive players, figuring out which team will most likely take a defensive player is the key instructor here.
I left out pick 7 and the Lions from the list above because they have so many needs this year. I believe personally that they’ll take a wide receiver, Penei Sewell or Kyle Pitts should he somehow drop to them, but they’ve needs on both sides of the ball.
The Falcons at 4 have the first “real pick” of the draft, and there’s talk of them trading back if someone is desperate for the 4th QB left (if Fields is there and not Mac Jones.) If they keep the pick the likely pick will be Kyle Pitts, although Penei Sewell or Trey Lance are possibilities.
I’m increasingly convinced the Bengals take Ja’Marr Chase at 5. There’s talk of the Dolphins trading back. Again, I think that’s only really likely if someone wants a QB, then the Lions at 7 could take DeVonta Smith, Kyle Pitts, Chase, Sewell, whichever of those is left. The Panthers at 8 are likely to take offensive as well after drafting all defensive players last year.
So that leaves us with the Denver Broncos at pick 9. There’s a chance they take a QB as Drew Lock hasn’t progressed as hoped, but Elway is no longer GM and his obsession with taking the tallest QB available is probably gone too. They have a defensive minded coach, a need at LB, and he would fit well in Denver. They’re basically the team I’m banking on taking Parsons.
The Cowboys at 10 are likely to take Surtain, but if Pitts miraculously lands in their laps there’s no doubt they’d be picking him instead, which would move us on to the Giants at 11, a landing spot that’s popping up in a lot of mock drafts I’ve seen.
So Will Parsons Be the First Defensive Player Drafted?
I think it’s closer to 50/50 than the implied >30% chance that +250 provides you if you add it to your NFL Picks.
We’re probably relying on the Broncos staying put, and the Cowboys are the obvious threat for this bet losing, but if they’re as infatuated with Kyle Pitts as reports say, would it shock anyone to see Jerry Jones moving up to get the stud TE?
The Giants would happily take Parsons at 11 should he be on the board, so I’ll be backing it at the price.