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NFL Draft 2021: -1000 for Chase to be first WR is too short

Ja'Marr Chase is likely to the be the first WR taken on Thursday night
Ja'Marr Chase is likely to the be the first WR taken on Thursday night
By Zachary Rainey

Sometimes, it’s the things you don’t do that become rewarding.

For LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, it was not playing the 2020 College Football season.

And why would he? Chase currently is likely to be the first wide receiver off the board in Thursday’s NFL Draft and is currently -1000 to be the first wide receiver selected.

The pair of Alabama products, Jaylen Waddle is +600 to be the first wide receiver selected and DeVonta Smith is +1000.

However, if you’re one that likes rumors and want a long shot, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the Dolphins prefer Waddle over Chase.

Originally, I think scouts around the league, as well as analysts thought the Cincinnati was going to go with Oregon’s Penei Sewell to protect Burrow after Burrow’s injury last season. But as we’ve gotten closer to draft day, it seems like the Bengals, right or wrong, are planning on taking Burrow’s favorite target at LSU over help on the offensive line.

So when it appeared that the Miami Dolphins wouldn’t be in position to take Chase, they come out and say “well that’s fine, we’ve liked Waddle all along anyway.”

That sounds like something you say when you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, but want to appear you did. Not sure I buy it, but if the Bengals do go with Sewell and the Dolphins are sitting there with their choice of wideouts, holding a Waddle +600 ticket would be a rush.

When Chase did play in ‘19, he was awarded the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver as a part of LSU’s National Championship winning team. After what NFL teams saw out of rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson with Minnesota this season, after he was the second-best receiver on his college team behind Chase, expectations for Chase increased.

Chase was the sure-fire first receiver off the board entering the season, but then Alabama’s wideouts joined the discussion. To many, they kind of came out of nowhere. Jaylen Waddle had legitimate Heisman buzz before getting injured, but DeVonta Smith picked up the Waddle’s buzz and ran with it in Alabama’s offense last year and carried it all the way to a Heisman Trophy.

But these aren’t Heisman odds we’re talking about. Smith was great last season at Alabama, but he could see himself being the last of the three drafted.

NFL Odds

I like Chase and agree with DraftKings and a lot of mock drafts that have him going as the first receiver. I’ve seen plenty of Mocks with Smith as the second receiver taken, which fits the current odds, but I have also seen enough that have Waddle going as the first receiver off the board, one even as high as third overall.

Waddle checks a lot of the boxes Smith perhaps doesn’t, especially in size and game strength. At 6-1, 175 pounds, that could scare some teams off. Smith was fast, but we’ll see if he has that second level of explosiveness. He has incredible football instincts and might be the best football player of the three.

But we know that the draft is all about potential and what someone could be down the road. Smith might be the most polished at the moment. But as Ian Cummings at Pro Football Network wrote, “Will the NFL prefer the explosive Jaylen Waddle first? Or will they instead favor the contested catch savant, Ja’Marr Chase? And what about Smith? He’s not as fast as Waddle, not as rugged as Chase, and not as big as Bateman, but he just gets the job done, with arguably the most consistency.”

At +600, I think it would be worth a ticket for Waddle. If not for Waddle’s injury, I think he would’ve stayed on his course and took home the Heisman. If that was the case, I think we’re talking about Waddle and Chase on more of a level field.

Unless you already hold a ticket for Chase, -1000 isn’t worth it at this point, but like I said multiple times above, I still think a +600 ticket for Waddle could, but likely won’t end up on my personal card. 

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