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Betting on NFL Draft Running Backs: Which RB gets Picked First?

Najee Harris is the favorite in the first RB drafted odds for the betting on NFL Draft Running Backs.

The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and it is an exciting time for fans of every franchise. If you back a team that’s expected to be atop the standings, like a Kansas City or Tampa Bay, the draft is a chance to finalize your roster for a crack at an appearance in Super Bowl 56.

On the flip side, it’s a new start for teams like Jacksonville and the New York Jets where a franchise player, such as Trevor Lawrence, looms. But what about the ball carriers? Here’s a look into betting on the NFL draft running backs.

Online sportsbook Bovada has listed some options for betting on the NFL draft such as first RB drafted odds and the betting odds for how many running backs will be selected in the first round.

Najee Harris of Alabama is currently the favorite in the first RB drafted odds at -200, followed by Travis Etienne at +155, Javonte Williams at +575, Trey Sermon at +4500 and Kenneth Gainwell at +5500 to round out the top five running backs on the oddsboard.

Harris’ -200 odds mean that you would have to wager $200 to profit $100 if he’s the first running back to go off the board. Our sports betting calculator tells us those -200 odds have an implied probability of 66.67 percent.

Betting on NFL Draft Running Backs: First RB Drafted Odds

First RB Drafted Odds
PlayerOdds
Najee Harris-180
Travis Etienne+150
Javonte Williams+500
Trey Sermon+4500
Kenneth Gainwell+5500
Michael Carter+5500
Chuba Hubbard+7500
Jaret Patterson+10000
Kylin Hill+10000

Odds as of April 22 at Bovada

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New to betting on the NFL draft? Be sure to check out our How to Bet on the NFL Draft to help you get in on the action. Also, keep an eye on our 2021 NFL Draft odds page for a list of players and prop betting lines.

Betting on NFL Draft Running Backs: Why Harris is favored in First RB Drafted Odds

To start, there is a recent trend of high-end NFL running backs that made their way through the NCAA via Alabama. Just to list some of the recent Pro Bowlers, we are talking about Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy, Josh Jacobs and two-time reigning NFL rushing yards and TD leader Derrick Henry.

Najee Harris was the featured back for the Crimson Tide over the last two seasons in a busy backfield and really emerged in his senior season last year, racking up the third-most rushing yards in the nation and scoring the most touchdowns with 26. What was also noticeable about Harris’ development over his four years at ‘Bama was his pass-catching abilities: He secured just 10 catches in his first two years before posting a career-high 43 receptions and 425 receiving yards in 2020.

Furthermore, he is a big running back, not unlike Tennessee Titans back Derrick Henry, who stands six-foot-three and weighs 247 pounds; Harris is listed at six-foot-two and 230 pounds.

Harris was talked about entering the draft last year but decided to return to college for another season and his development was apparent, much like you could see with wide receiver DeVonta Smith, whom you can read about in our First WR Drafted Odds and Picks article.

Betting on NFL Draft Running Backs: Is there value outside of Harris?

I think there are three running backs who stand above the rest and, realistically, Harris is a level beyond the other two. That said, if you were looking for a little more value, Clemson’s Travis Etienne (+155) or North Carolina’s Javonte Williams (+575) may have a chance to knock off Harris, though I’m not confident in that.

Clemson Running Back: Travis Etienne

For Etienne, I think his best move in hindsight would have been to enter the draft after his junior year. His Tigers won the national championship in 2018 and were a finalist in 2019. However, he returned for his senior season and only topped 100 rushing yards three times in 12 games. He averaged the fewest yards per carry and had the second-fewest attempts, yards and touchdowns of his college career.

North Carolina Running Back: Javonte Williams

Given the choice between Williams and Etienne, I would go with the North Carolina product. Williams had better numbers across the board last season, including more yards, yards per carry, rushing touchdowns and receiving touchdowns, not to mention fewer fumbles. Additionally, Williams is a bigger back than Etienne; both are five-foot-10 but Williams weighs 15 pounds more than Etienne.

Overall, there’s a chance all three could go in the first round but I think it will be the favorite, Harris, being the first off the board with Williams being the next running back drafted.

Betting on NFL Draft Running Backs Prop Odds

Outside of the main market of the first RB drafted odds, online sportsbook Bovada has provided some running back draft prop odds to wager on such as total running backs drafted in Round 1. The total is set at 0.5 with the OVER juiced at -300 and I believe this prop is a lock.

Here’s a look at the remaining NFL draft RB prop odds:

Running Backs Drafted in Round 1
OutcomeOdds
OVER 0.5-300
UNDER 0.5+200

Odds as of April 22 at Bovada

When Will Najee Harris be Drafted?
OutcomeOdds
OVER Pick 30.5+150
UNDER Pick 30.5-200

Odds as of April 22 at Bovada

When Will Chuba Hubbard be Drafted?
OutcomeOdds
OVER Pick 113.5-130
UNDER Pick 113.5-110

Odds as of April 22 at Bovada