It’s fitting that the 2022 NFL Draft is hitting the Las Vegas Strip.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the top of this draft and how things will shake out, any pick feels like a roll of the dice. Plenty of teams will be looking to put their chips on the pass line, playing the safest bet they can, but sometimes, things come up snake eyes. Other teams may view the uncertainty as an opportunity to play the long odds, risking it big in the hopes of hitting the jackpot.
George Pickens UNDER 36.5 (+120)
The Georgia wideout caught a tough break when he suffered an ACL injury prior to the 2021 season, but he managed to get healthy and return for the College Football Playoff. If the ACL injury doesn’t happen, Pickens could have stamped his ticket as a surefire first-round pick and one of the first few receivers off the board due to his size, speed, and playmaking ability. Right now, according to Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano of ESPN, Pickens believes his range is somewhere between picks No. 25 and 45. At +120 odds, I love the value of under 36.5 for a player whose talent makes him a very intriguing option, especially at the tail end of the first round where Kansas City and Green Bay each have multiple picks and a need at wideout.
Trey McBride UNDER 50.5 (+100)
The consensus No. 1 tight end in this year’s draft is Trey McBride from Colorado State and it’s by a pretty wide margin. In The Athletic’s draft consensus big board—put together by friend of the PODcast Arif Hasan—McBride is right smack dab at No. 50 and ranked 22 spots higher than the next tight end, UCLA’s Greg Dulcich at No. 72. Going back to 2002, at least one tight end has been selected in the top 50 picks with the exception of the 2015 draft where Maxx Williams was taken just outside at No. 55. When you combine his position as the best tight end this class has to offer and historical precedent, McBride at under 50.5 seems like a very good bet.
Devin Lloyd OVER 19.5 (-125)
Utah’s Devin Lloyd rounds out my favorite draft position bets—and at less than even money. Lloyd has experienced some slippage in mock drafts after consistently being featured as a top-20 pick. This week, draftnik Matt Miller mentioned that both Lloyd and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean have been flagged by multiple teams for their physicals, and this could mean the Utah product could find his way out of the first round completely. One of the most popular spots for Lloyd over recent weeks has been the New England Patriots at pick 21, so if that’s the case, Lloyd at over 19.5 cashes.
Total 1st Round Cornerbacks Drafted - OVER 4.5 (+120)
Two cornerbacks are likely top-10 picks in Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. Again, to reference The Athletic’s consensus big board, six cornerbacks are considered to be in the top 35 players in this draft, including the aforementioned Gardner and Stingley Jr. In 2021, five cornerbacks were selected in the first round, and in 2020, six cornerbacks were taken on Day 1. I’ll bet on that trend continuing with over 4.5 being taken in this year’s first round, especially with the talent available.
Total 1st Round Wide Receivers Drafted - UNDER 6.5 (-120)
Vegas has picked a good number here, and the over is positioned with some longer odds (-110) to potentially entice you into grabbing the over, but I think this first round is going to be heavy on defense. Five wide receivers figure to be locked in as first-round picks: Jameson Williams, Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Treylon Burks. Beyond that, prospects like George Pickens, Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson, and Skyy Moore sit on the fence of having their name called on Day 1. I’ll bet on just one of those four players getting picked in the first round—under 6.5—when there’s so much defensive talent to be had.
1st WR Selected - Jameson Williams (+175)
Jameson Williams was the No. 1 wide receiver on virtually everyone’s rankings until he suffered a torn ACL in the National Championship game. The injury might prevent him from being available at the start of the NFL season, but he looks to be making good progress in his rehab. For a team in need of wide receiver help, drafting the best one available seems like good business.
1st QB Selected - Malik Willis (-190)
2nd Offensive Lineman Selected - Evan Neal (+140)
With Ikem Ekwonu becoming the odds-on favorite to be the first offensive lineman off the board, this is great value for Alabama’s Evan Neal. Once positioned as the potential No. 1 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, some shuffling at the top of the draft has had him fall out of favor, but if Ekwonu is the first offensive lineman selected, Neal shouldn’t be far behind.
Player to be drafted in the Top 5
Ahmad Gardner (-130)
Personally, I’d like this line to creep to -120 before I bite, but I think Gardner is almost a lock for the top five unless Stingley Jr. gets picked before him—and even then, there’s a chance both go in the top five. Also, this is where shopping around for the best odds can be to your benefit: Gardner’s draft position is set at under 5.5 at -150 odds... when you can get him to be drafted in the top five at -130. You’re welcome.
Player to be drafted in the Top 10
Kyle Hamilton (+200)
Purely from a value standpoint, we’re talking about a player some consider to be the best player in the draft, but because he plays the safety position, people are questioning where Hamilton lands. You’re getting 2:1 odds on one of the best players in the class going not in the top 5, but the top 10, and that’s a bet I’m willing to make.
Player to be drafted in the Top 32
Desmond Ridder (-125)
Between Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis, there hasn’t been much room for other quarterbacks to be talked about as first-round picks in a class that’s been lamented as weak. Recently, Ridder has emerged as a guy on the radar of a lot of teams down the stretch of the pre-draft process. According to Tony Pauline from Pro Football Network, just about everybody has a first-round grade on Ridder. At close to even odds, Ridder is at a good value to be picked on Thursday.