The 2021 NFL Draft is over, and now it’s time to look ahead to see how the upcoming rookie class will perform in 2021. Many of your favorite sportsbooks, including PointsBet, have prop bets that are now available for the incoming 2021 NFL rookie class. Today, we are taking a look at a few of my favorite 2021 NFL rookie prop bets as we head into the summer.
2021 NFL Rookie Prop Bets
1. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
OVER 900 rushing yards (-134)
Drafting a running back in the first round has become quite an unpopular thing to do now in the NFL. Most teams believe that they can locate running backs later in the NFL Draft or NFL free agency and find production. However, each year, a few teams still pick a running back late in Round 1 because of the output they can get early in their NFL careers.
Pittsburgh was the first team to select a running back this year, taking Najee Harris at the No. 24 pick. And while we can debate the merit of the pick, the production that Harris will have as a rookie should be outstanding.
Consider this: Since the 2012 NFL Draft, 10 running backs were selected in Round 1. Those 10 running backs have averaged 1,101.3 rushing yards during their rookie season. Only two of those ten running backs (Melvin Gordon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire) failed to reach 900 rushing yards during their first two seasons.
There is an 80% hit rate for running backs exceeding 900 rushing yards during their rookie season because NFL teams want to justify their picks. Teams are going to lean on their young backs, knowing that they can produce right away.
With the Steelers wanting to improve their run game, it seems reasonable that Harris will see 16-20 carries a week. Can Harris average 53 rushing yards per game throughout a 17-game season? You bet he can. Pittsburgh will feed their young running back, and you can bet that he will go over the 900 rushing yardage total set by PointsBet.
2. Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
UNDER 750.5 receiving yards (+110)
There is no bigger fan of Kyle Pitts than myself. I think he is the best tight end prospect we’ve ever seen come into the NFL. However, tight ends typically take a bit to adjust to the speed of the NFL, and that includes even the best prospect.
Pitts isn’t a typical tight end as he can legitimately play on the outside and from the slot and beat cornerbacks. However, I’m still a bit concerned that he won’t go over 750.5 yards for a few different reasons.
Atlanta is loaded with weapons. The pairing of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley is arguably the best in the NFL, and they will gobble up the lion’s share of the passing volume. The Falcons also have a few established role players, such as Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst, who figure to steal targets away from Pitts.
And then, there is this. Only three rookie tight ends in NFL history have ever totaled 730 receiving yards. While he is undoubtedly a generational prospect, it would be quite a surprise if he could get over 750.5 yards barring a Julio Jones trade this offseason.
Most receiving yards by a rookie tight end in NFL history: pic.twitter.com/JGVcScVwTx
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) May 10, 2021
Pitts is going to be one of the league’s best tight ends shortly in the NFL. But given all of the surrounding talent around him as a rookie, don’t be surprised if his overall volume underwhelms a bit during the 2021 season.
3. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
UNDER 4,150.5 passing yards (-115)
We’ve seen some outstanding rookie quarterback performances over the last few years, including Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield and Dak Prescott. It’s becoming more and more common for young quarterbacks to come right into the NFL and produce. However, it still takes quarterbacks a few years before they become high-volume passing quarterbacks in the league.
In the history of the NFL, only four quarterbacks have ever thrown for more than 4,000 yards during their rookie season. It’s worth noting that those four quarterbacks were all drafted after 2010. So while it’s rare to see a quarterback throw for 4,000 or more yards, it’s not as uncommon in today’s NFL.
No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence has quite the expectations ahead of him as he was named the top pick for the 2021 draft since high school. Now, he has a record-setting passing yardage total ahead of him. The NFL adding a 17 game should help, but Lawrence would still need to average over 244 passing yards per game to hit that goal. That’s also assuming he stays healthy, which can be challenging for young quarterbacks to do behind bad offensive lines.
Look for the Jaguars to limit Lawrence’s exposure as a rookie, leaning on running backs James Robinson and Travis Etienne to shoulder the offensive workload. Lawrence will certainly have big games now and again, but expecting him to have (at least) the third-most passing yards ever for a rookie seems a bit lofty.
4. DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
OVER 750.5 receiving yards (-115)
After trading up from No. 12 to No. 10 to acquire him, you can bet that the Eagles will use DeVonta Smith early and often. Greg Ward led the team in receptions last year, and Travis Fulgham led the team in receiving yards. Neither are expected to be in the starting lineup this season as both underwhelmed despite their stats. They likely won’t take away any significant volume for Smith.
Smith is reuniting with his college teammate in Jalen Hurts in an offense that will likely throw a bunch. Smith should be the team’s No. 1 receiver right away, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he saw at least 110 targets as a rookie.
Given how well he can run routes and make plays after the catch, he would likely only need to catch 60 or so passes to go over 750 yards. That would seem like a lock even if he were to miss a few games. Smith is a better bet to go over 1,000 yards as a rookie than go under 750.5 yards.
5. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
UNDER 725.5 receiving yards (-115)
The Dolphins wanted to get faster this offseason, and they certainly accomplished that. Miami added Will Fuller in free agency and used the No. 6 pick on Jaylen Waddle, who was one of the most explosive playmakers in the draft.
However, there is a bit of a concern about his role and workload early in his career in Miami.
No. 1 receiver DeVante Parker returns in 2021, as does Mike Gesicki, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant and Lynn Bowden. The Dolphins want to be a balanced attack and there might not be 75ish targets right away for Waddle. Fuller is suspended for Week 1, but he figures to be the team’s primary deep threat right away. He signed just a one-year deal, so it’s not hard to believe that Waddle will eventually replace him in 2022.
Expect Waddle to average around 16-17 yards per catch as Henry Ruggs did with the Raiders last season. However, look for him to ultimately go under his total of 725.5 receiving yards as he works himself into the crowded rotation at receiver in 2021.