We are less than a month away from this year’s NFL Draft and the excitement for the event is at an all-time high with no other sports going on. From a betting perspective the event offers an opportunity to bet on a large variety of prop bets, one of the most popular being specific players’ over/unders on their draft position. I look to identify a mix of team needs, perceived individual player worth, and historical trends to identify which players’ over/under prop bets present value. This process led me to my first bet of this NFL Draft on Jerry Jeudy’s draft projection: over or under draft pick 12.5.
Jerry Jeudy’s draft projection: over or under 12.5?
In a league that annually becomes more and more pass-friendly, the value of wide receivers has enhanced. This is evidenced by free agents like Randall Cobb, Robby Anderson, Emmanuel Sanders, and Breshad Perriman signing contracts with an average annual value of 8 million or more this offseason, despite not being top-tier wide receivers.
To put this in perspective, Perriman would be tied with Melvin Gordon as the sixth highest-paid running back if he played that position. Therefore, there are many teams that will be looking to add game-changing wide receivers on cheaper rookie contracts in the first round of next month’s NFL Draft. These picks will likely come from “Tier 1” of this year’s wide receiver class, comprised of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.
However, I believe NFL teams view this year’s top receiver as a 2-man race between Lamb and Jeudy. While Ruggs showed his elite speed at the NFL Combine, teams have finally wised up to the fact that speed does not necessarily mean a receiver will be able to create separation. Ruggs struggles with physicality and route running, and I view him as more of a system receiver. Teams drafting a receiver in the top half of the first round will be looking for someone who can step in immediately as a wide receiver #1 and run any route, leaving us with just Lamb and Jeudy.
Here, I give Jeudy the edge because he checks every box a team would be looking for in a team’s top receiver. He is the best route runner in the draft and is beyond his years with his release techniques. Furthermore, his quick twitch and elite acceleration allow him to challenge even the toughest corners. He’s shown ability to produce against the toughest composition regardless of the quarterback. He, more so than Lamb or any other receiver in this year’s draft, is ready to step in week 1 and lead a team’s receiving corps as the WR1.
There are two teams at the 11th and 12th picks in this year’s draft that will be in the market for a top receiver. The New York Jets sit at pick 11 with a receiving core consisting of Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Quincy Enunwa. They lost their young quarterback Sam Darnold’s favorite target Robby Anderson in free agency, and first year general manager Joe Douglas will be looking to give Darnold help to further his development into the Jets franchise quarterback. I see the Jets drafting Jeudy at 11 as they try to enhance their offense to contend in the AFC East without Tom Brady.
If Jeudy slips past the Jets at 11, the Las Vegas Raiders sit at 12 and are historically prone to drafting wide receivers early. But beyond that, they have a receiving corps of Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones that needs upgrading. They do not have the salary cap to sign someone in free agency, and instead will have to add a game-changing receiver in the draft, and there is no one more ready than Jerry Jeudy to step in that role. I think the Raiders will jump at the opportunity to draft Jeudy if they are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so at pick #12.
Most recent drafts would not suggest this to be a smart pick, as no receiver has gone before pick 13 in the last two years. However, you have to look to the 2017 NFL Draft to see a wide receiver class similar to this one: there was a top tier of three wide receivers in Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross. All three receivers went in the top ten.
The perceived talent gap between tier 1 and tier 2 of receivers in 2017 was large, and teams were forced to put a premium on the value of top-tier receivers because they would not be available in round 2. I believe this year’s draft will follow a similar course to the 2017 draft in terms of receivers, so do not be surprised when these three receivers are off the board early. Being the best of the top tier and likely first receiver off the board, go under 12.5 for Jerry Jeudy’s draft projection.
To further confirm my pick, the trusty PFN Mock Draft Simulator has Jeudy going under 12.5 54% of the time. Therefore, I love the value presented for Jeudy under 12.5 at -138 on the William Hill Sportsbook, and have placed a 2 unit bet on this prop.