NFL Draft – Placing a prop bet on the 2022 NFL draft means gambling on the wisdom of individuals such as Trent Baalke, Jack Easterby, and Matt Rhule.
When you think about it that way, investing in NFTs starts to sound rather shrewd. But that’s why prop bets are wagers and not investments.
The draft is days away. The smokescreens are finally blowing away. Everything that can be said about every prospect has been said, repeated, refuted, reassessed, and regurgitated. All that’s left to talk about now are the props.
As always, Football Outsiders’ 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy.
(Note: All odds come from DraftKings on Saturday afternoon, April 23… except for these first two props which are updated as of Monday morning.)
No. 1 Overall 2022 NFL Draft Pick
Travon Walker (-150), Aidan Hutchinson (+140)
It sure has been a wild few weeks of narrative for Georgia defensive end Travon Walker:
- Should Travon Walker be the first overall pick?
- Should the Jets or Giants trade two first-rounders to move up and take Travon Walker?
- Is Travon Walker better than Patrick Mahomes RIGHT NOW?
- Should the NFL just cancel games and broadcast Walker running 3-cone drills instead?
Walker’s odds were at +180 on Sunday when Walkthrough went to editing, Hutchinson’s at -200. In fact, I took Hutchinson -200, assuming it was a great value. Then the odds suddenly flipped on Monday morning, which is a sign that some news has leaked out of Duval and that the house got the scoop first.
Yes, SackSEER loves Walker. But as the No. 1 pick in the draft, he’s complete schmuckbait. Unfortunately, Trent Baalke is a complete schmuck, and Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson goes to the Baskin-Robbins in his mind whenever defensive decisions must be made. There are three elite sack specialists atop the draft board, and two of them actually generated sacks in college. It’s like a shell game with two balls! The only way the Jaguars can fail is if Baalke purposely makes an illogical choice just to prove how smart he is!
It now looks as though Baalke is making an illogical choice just to prove how smart he is. (To be clear, SackSEER loves Hutchinson and Keyvon Thibodeaux too, to the point where little things like actually being an elite college player and not just the third-best guy on your own line become worthy tiebreakers.)
Walkthrough hates the idea of Walker at No. 1. We also now hate this prop bet. And we REALLY hate Monday morning edits during draft week.
No. 2 Overall 2022 NFL Draft Pick
Keyvon Thibodeaux (+200)
Aidan Hutchinson (-110)
Trevon Walker (+400)
Malik Willis (+1000)
The Walker-Hutchinson flip also upended this prop. I was about to leap into my favorite sportsbook on Monday morning and pounce on Hutchinson -110 to hedge my Sunday Hutchinson wager (which I cannot buy out). After all, if the Jaguars select Walker, Dan Campbell will adopt Hutchinson as his son and bequeath the Campbell fortune (mostly fishing rods, old military cutlasses, and shiny pebbles he found in the forest) unto him.
Then I scanned my past bets and discovered that I plunked down Hutchinson +150 with a draft order over-under at +1.5 back on March 9th, when we last discussed draft props. Hedge achieved!
The shakeup at the top also lowered Willis’ odds from +900 to +1000. Those odds have been bouncing all over the board all week but may stabilize now. I have mocked Willis to the Lions with the second pick in the past, but:
Still, stay tuned for a flyer of a wager that Walkthrough whipped up, after we take a closer look at some other quarterback props on the board.
Total Quarterbacks in the First Round of the 2022 NFL Draft
Over 2.5 (-250)
Under 2.5 (+190)
There’s an old NFL axiom: if there are two first-round-worthy quarterbacks in a draft class, then three quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round. The unspoken corollary: if there are zero first-round-worthy quarterbacks in a draft class, then three quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round.
Under those circumstances, that Over looks tempting, despite the meager payout. But that +190 for the Under is a siren song.
Perhaps we should restack the draft board at quarterback for what (we hope) will be the last time before further exploring props:
- The Lions could pursue Willis at 2 but appear much more likely to draft a premium defender, then perhaps seek a quarterback solution with the 32nd pick.
- The Carolina Panthers need a quarterback but sound like they would rather draft a tackle at No. 6 (or trade down with the New Orleans Saints) and then trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield.
- The Atlanta Falcons need a quarterback plus everything else. They are also potential Saints trade partners at No. 8. It’s doubtful that Pitt’s Kenny Pickett will make it through the Panthers-Falcons gauntlet.
- The Seattle Seahawks are likely to settle for Drew Lock, Geno Smith, and a midround pick this year. Remember that the Seahawks: a) drafted Russell Wilson in the third round in 2012, b) believe they are smarter than everyone else, and c) abhor drafting for obvious needs, making them unlikely to grab a quarterback at No. 9 just because they are desperate. The Seahawks are also potential Saints trading partners.
- The Saints should not trade three first-round picks and a second-rounder (the total haul once their previous trade with the Eagles is factored in) for any quarterback in this draft. That does not mean they won’t do it. But gosh, they really shouldn’t. They could, however, select Willis at No. 16 and stash him in the quarterback room between Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. Willis would also have fallen to them if they waited their turn behind the Los Angeles Chargers instead of trading with the Eagles, but then the Saints would not be able to fill a second need in the first round this year. Confused? So are the Saints.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers need a quarterback at 20 and are the least likely team to overthink the situation. They’ll grab Willis if he slips or Desmond Ridder if he doesn’t. They could also trade up, though that is not their style.
It’s close, but there are too many situations in which that third quarterback is selected in the first round—the Lions grab Ridder or Matt Corral at 32; the Falcons, Saints, or some other team trades up with the Kansas City Chiefs or Green Bay Packers for a quarterback they can exercise a fifth-year option on; the Eagles say YOLO and snag a dropping Willis—to justify taking the Over.
First Quarterback Selected in the 2022 NFL Draft
Malik Willis (-150)
Kenny Pickett (+150)
Willis crept up from -170 last week, Pickett down from +130. Read on for Walkthrough’s master plan on this one.
Team to Draft Kenny Pickett in the 2022 NFL Draft
Team to Draft Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft
Do NOT take the Willis-Panthers prop. Owner David Tepper is starting to figure out what’s what, so he’s not going to let Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer draft Willis and claim “welp, now we need two more rebuilding years to develop him, so you cannot fire us.”
Pickett to the Falcons at +500 looks tasty, but Walkthrough has something bolder in mind. We plopped down $5 each on Willis to be the second pick at +1000 (that’s where the moneyline was when I wrote my rough draft), Willis to the Lions at +350, AND Willis as the first quarterback taken at -150. That’s 15 bucks to win $85.80! And the Willis/Lions prop insures the wager a bit if the Lions trade down or take Willis with their second first-rounder.
We aren’t staking our portfolio on this longshot, but there’s enough safe action elsewhere to play a hunch with a small-figure wager.
Oregon Edge Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux 2022 NFL Draft Position
Under 5.5 (-115)
Over 5.5 (-115)
The Jaguars will outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux. The Lions could outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux. The Texans might outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux. The Jets could outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux. The Giants could outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux.
But could the Jaguars, Lions, Texans, Jets, and Giants ALL outsmart themselves about Thibodeaux? When the Jets need an edge rusher? And the Giants are currently run by certified grownups? No way.
Take the Under if you have not already.
Notre Dame Safety Kyle Hamilton 2022 NFL Draft Position
Under 9.5 (-140)
Over 9.5 (+110)
The house wedged this number between the Seahawks (a team that loves safeties and refuses to draft for need) at ninth overall and the Jets (second selection of the round, need at safety) 10th overall. It’s almost as if they know how to make these decisions difficult.
I have mocked Hamilton to the Texans in the past, but there’s little chance that Jack Easterby passes up the chance to grab either the Walker/Thibodeaux slider or a talented cornerback with a cool-sounding name like “Sauce” or “STING-ley” at No. 3. The Seahawks, in a similar vein, might prefer a Richard Sherman-like Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley to the Earl Thomas-like Hamilton.
Hamilton’s Expected Draft Position at Grinding the Mocks has dipped to 11.5; one more reason for Walkthrough to lean Over.
Alabama WR Jameson Williams 2022 NFL Draft Position
Under 14.5 (-160)
Over 14.5 (+120)
Will Williams fall to the Eagles at 15 or the Saints at 16? Based on everything Walkthrough has heard in the past few weeks: no!
NFL decision-makers love Williams and won’t worry too much about placing him on the PUP while he rehabs his January ACL tear. Grinding the Mocks lists Williams’ ADP at 13, and that’s accounting for some inside-baseball mock draft reasoning (mix the quarterbacks in early, save a popular selection for the insatiable Eagles fanbase). The Saints or Eagles could trade up for Williams, or the Texans, Commanders, or Ravens might take a swing. Either way, Walkthrough is hitting the Under.
First Wide Receiver Selected, 2022 NFL Draft
Garrett Wilson (+110)
Drake London (+200)
Jameson Williams (+250)
Chris Olave (+1800)
Scouts love Williams, but they like Ohio State’s Wilson too, and Wilson will be ready to roll on the first day of rookie camp. Walkthrough is taking Wilson +110 as a safe bet and a minor hedge on that last prop.
Drake London’s “Imma hold my own special pro day three hours before the draft and then not run a forty” routine won’t hurt his draft stock that much, but it did nothing to push him past Wilson and Williams. Teams had already started making up their minds by the time London worked out; if he wanted to be WR1, he needed to do something to change them.
Total First-Round WRs Selected: Over 6.5 (-125), Under 6.5 (-105)
As of the middle of last week, when the first draft of this article was being sketched out, the number stood at 5.5, the Over was a prohibitive -240, and the Under an alluring +195.
To understand why this prop changed so drastically by the weekend, let’s take a look at the total number of first-round wide receivers selected, by year:
History tells us that six first-round receivers would be A LOT of receivers. History also tells us that gobs of receivers who earned a ton of pre-draft attention end up getting drafted in the second round: DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Jarvis Landry, Michael Thomas, etc. Draftnik darlings such as Christian Watson and Skyy Moore almost certainly won’t be selected in the first round. That leaves Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Penn State’s Jahan Dotson, USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, and Alabama’s Jameson Williams as the six first-round-worthy wide receivers.
If you prefer to come from the other angle: the Jets, Eagles, Saints, Chiefs, and Packers all have critical needs at wide receiver and two first-round picks. That leaves one slot for the Over. The Lions have two picks and a need, but they’re also in the quarterback market and have an early second-round pick to spend. The Falcons have a critical need but probably cannot afford to scratch it eighth overall; if they do, the Saints or Eagles might shift gears (or trade up for that pick.) It’s easy to come up with six teams that might select a wide receiver, but it’s hard to find six teams with first-round picks who must, especially with Moore, Watson, Jon Metchie, George Pickens, and so many others likely to headline Day 2.
The house probably increased the number because of all the chatter surrounding potential first-round sleepers like Moore, Watson, and Pickens. The house then hedged, because offering +100 or better on an Under that high would be bananapants.
Frankly, Walkthrough thinks this Over should be at +125 and expects it to climb early in the week. We’re taking the Under all the way to the bank.
Some Interesting Values on the 2022 NFL Draft Top 32 Market
Here are the odds on some players getting selected anywhere in the first round:
Desmond Ridder (-120)
Tyler Smith (+120)
Travis Jones (+120)
Logan Hall (+130)
Kaiir Elam (+135)
Breece Hall (+145)
David Ojabo (+200)
Jaquan Brisker (+250)
Jalen Pitre (+300)
Chad Muma (+400)
David Ojabo’s name should leap out at you. The Michigan standout was getting mid-first-round buzz before his pro day Achilles injury. Some of us thought he had higher upside than Aidan Hutchinson. Ojabo is exactly the sort of player the Bills or Buccaneers might draft as a medical redshirt late in the first round. Grinding the Mocks gives him an ADP of 30.4, and he appears to have stabilized on the cusp of the first round. At +200, he’s too great a value to pass up.
Ridder at -120 is a tasty value if you also liked that Over of 2.5 first-round quarterbacks at -250. As a bonus, you get insulation in case some team prefers Ridder to Willis. Tyler Smith is a draftnik darling: athletic, fun to watch, tons of upside, just 21 years old this month, a holding penalty waiting to happen. Smith could well be the consolation prize for some tackle-needy team in the mid- to late first round, making him appetizing at +120.
Jones is a first-round-worthy nose tackle, Hall a first-round-worthy 3-technique or 5-technique type. Brisker and Pitre are solid all-around safeties, Pitre with some exciting “multi-position defender” juice. All four play positions that the NFL devalues in the first round. Two or three of them will probably be selected in the first round.
Chad Muma has a little of that Leighton Vander Esch shine about him: the Cowboys (shooting from the hip for a buzzy prospect), Patriots (Bill Belichick 4D chess gambit), Bills (no needs), Chiefs (extra late-round picks), or Packers (extra late-round picks, Aaron Rodgers trolling value) could take a spin.
Walkthrough built a little “fake parlay” out of Ojabo, Brisker, and Muma at five bucks each. If any of them are taken in the first round, we break even. (It’s not a real parlay, just three little wagers.) If all three hit, 15 bucks will net us $96.75.
Philadelphia Eagles: Exact Position of First Player Selected in the 2022 NFL Draft
Wide Receiver (+225)
Defensive Back (+225)
Defensive Line/Edge (+225)
Offensive Lineman (+550)
We’re not going through each and every team’s “first position selected” prop, but there are lots of potential values and fun wagers to explore, especially if you just want to bet on your favorite team.
Wide receiver leads the Grinding the Mocks draft share, with the Eagles taking a receiver first in 22.05% of mocks, narrowly edging out edge rushers (19.84%), cornerback (19.61%), and, um, linebacker (19.17%.) Eagles fans are obsessed with first-round linebackers, so there’s some fan trolling baked into those figures. Still, wide receiver feels like a value at +225, especially if Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. are well off the board by the time the Eagles even consider trading up. And they will be.
Buffalo Bills: Exact Position of First Player Selected in the 2022 NFL Draft
Defensive Back (+175)
Running Back (+350)
Offensive Lineman (+425)
Wide Receiver (+500)
Ooh, we get cornerbacks AND safeties to the Bills at +175? Yummy! We just don’t see the Bills picking a wide receiver at 25 unless Chris Olave slips, and we don’t see Chris Olave slipping past the Packers at 22.
Also, if you still believe the Bills will draft a running back, take this prop instead of any Breece Hall/Kenneth Walker props. But seriously, don’t wager on the Bills drafting a running back.
Chicago Bears: Exact Position of First Player Selected in the 2022 NFL Draft
Wide Receiver (+250)
Offensive Lineman (+250)
Defensive Back (+300)
Defensive Lineman/Edge (+425)
One more of these team specials: the Bears do not draft until the second round, and their wide receiver corps currently consists of Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Dazz Newsome, and some other players worthy of being WR3s in the USFL. Meanwhile, the second round promises to be teeming with wide receiver talent. Even if the Bears trade their pick, it will likely be for a wide receiver, making this feel like a license to print money at +250.
First Special Teams Player Selected
Matt Araiza (-125)
This prop is just sitting on a dusty corner of the board. San Diego State’s Araiza is basically ROBOPUNTER made flesh, the best punting prospect since at least Bryan Anger, if not Shane Lechler. Araiza would be a reasonable choice as a fourth- or fifth-round pick for a team with few other needs and an aging punter, such as the Bengals. Penn State kicker/punter Jordan Stout is second on the board at +400, and Walkthrough’s willing to wager that no team prefers Stout to Araiza as a punter or plans to take a kicker who went 16-of-23 on field goals in his lone full season in the role.
The Walkthrough 2022 NFL Draft Prop Bet Slip
Here’s the final tally of wagers I actually placed heading into draft week:
- Aidan Hutchinson first player selected (-200) Oops.
- Aiden Hutchinson over 1.5 (+150). By lucky accident! No longer on the board!
- Jameson Williams under 15.5 (-160)
- Garrett Wilson first wide receiver selected (+110)
- Kayvon Thibodeaux under 5.5 (-115)
- Matt Araiza first special teams player selected (-125)
- Total first-round wide receivers, under 6.5 (-125)
- Philadelphia Eagles, wide receiver selected first (+225)
- Chicago Bears, wide receiver selected first (+250)
- Buffalo Bills, defensive back selected first (+175)
- Malik Willis high-risk wagers (small bets)
- First-round defenders three-way “parlay” (small bets)
We like our chances of a big weekend. At the very least, we’re a cinch to break even. And as always, we encourage you to bet responsibly.
Football Outsiders 2022 NFL Draft Coverage
You will be able to find Derrik Klassen and I breaking down every single pick of the first round LIVE on Twitter and all of those other social networks on Thursday night! You will also be able to find all of the video clips and some other analysis in one big feature moments after the first round ends. Finally, Aaron Schatz, Benjamin Robinson, Derrik and I will be breaking down the first round on a special FRIDAY edition of the Football Outsiders livestream at 1 p.m. Eastern.
For Day 2, you will find me haunting the Football Outsiders Open Discussion Thread and generally being a gadfly on Twitter. Same with Day 3, though I will be shifting gears on Saturday to begin writing the first ever Football Outsiders Draft Preliminary Performance Assessments, which we will probably call “draft grades” simply for search engine optimization purposes.
In other words, I won’t be writing pick-by-pick real-time grades of each selection for the first time in about a decade. Why? Because my opinions of the top prospects can be found on the FO 40, my initial thoughts on each first-round pick will take video form, and Monday’s roundup will allow more time and space to breathe and think. Most of my “real-time reactions” of the past were elaborate pre-writes like the ones in the FO 40 anyway. This format will make everything more digestible for you and a little less hectic for me.
So look for Derrik and I wherever you get your social networking fix on Thursday night, hang out in our comment threads, and spend draft weekend with your friends here at Football Outsiders, where we promise to keep the insight-to-hoopla ratio as high as possible! (Though there may still be some hoopla.)