This article is part of our NFL Picks series.
After tremendous success last season, John McKechnie and I are back with a number of prop bet options ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Given the tumultuous nature of #DraftSeason, the plan will be to have John take another stab at the prop game a bit closer to crunch time while I examine a couple of angles that seem appealing as of Tuesday.
It's been discussed ad nauseum at this point, but it's worth reiterating the lackluster top-end talent in this draft coupled with a weird combination of teams with multiple first-round picks and no glaringly obvious holes (both New York teams) plus multiple teams that would desperately love to trade down (Lions, Panthers) makes this an awfully unpredictable draft. That's going to be great from an entertainment perspective, but compared to last season where you could essentially map out the first seven picks in some order, this draft gets confusing at pick 2 and that's only if the Jaguars don't throw a curveball.
As a result, I stuck to a pretty calculated set of categories to hopefully provide some plus-money value while also acknowledging the absolute chaos that could occur by 8:11 PM ET Thursday.
Player Specific Number Selection Over/Under
I think the mid-first round is going to be ripe for trades, but spending draft capital to move up into the first 10 selections generally is reserved for what teams believe is an elite-level talent or a quarterback. With that being said, I don't imagine a team is going to move up for London which really just leaves three landing spots for a wide receiver to go within the top 12. This bet is centered on the likes of Garrett Wilson/Jameson Williams clearly being defined as the top two of this class and thus filling in two of those spots. I'd like this a lot more if you could bump this down to 10.5 and remove the Commanders from the equation, but I'll take the plus money and hope London's lack of pro day numbers scares off enough teams to have the USC product fall slightly.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Over 11.5 (+122 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
This number sneaks in both the Saints' first Day 1 selection and Eagles' first-round pick, which feels about the furthest Olave will possibly fall. It also allows the possibility for a team to trade up ahead of those teams and still hit on the bet. Given the way the wide receiver market has swelled within the last month and a number of teams with painstakingly obvious needs at the position, someone will grab the electric Ohio State prospect relatively early. If you wanted to double down on this notion, taking Olave to be selected before Trent McDuffie (-125 on DraftKings) seems like a no-brainer, and I even like the notion of grabbing +500 odds (DraftKings again) that he winds up as the No. 3 wide receiver taken.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Under 16.5 (-150 on DraftKings Sportsbook)
It's never wise to bet the Packers will draft a wide receiver in the first round, but the only way Burks isn't in green and gold next season is if one of Wilson/Williams/Olave/London somehow falls to No. 22 in what I could only assume was a Laremy Tunsil 2.0 situation. Yes, Burks ran a slower-than-expected 40 at the Combine, but it's hard to ignore the type of production he compiled at Arkansas, and speed as an entity can always be filled later in the draft, or through some of the free agents still roaming around. I think there's a clear drop-off when it comes to top-end draftable WR talent after Burks, which essentially means the Arkansas product will get pushed up by a WR-needy team by default.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Under 22.5 (+124 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
Some team is going to trade up to get a fifth-year option on Ridder, who I think has the potential to be a top-2 quarterback from this class. Most sportsbooks offer some over/under on the number of quarterbacks selected in the first round, but none of them give nearly as good of odds as this wager. The Cincinnati product really feels like the only possible first-round selection outside of Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett, both of whom should go well before this spot.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Under 30.5 (+100 on DraftKings Sportsbook)
Most sportsbooks I saw had Ekwonu at this number in the -250 or higher range. Maybe Caesars knows something we don't, considering that the North Carolina State product has been rumored to be the selection for three of the first four teams. A "fall" to the Jets seems like the worst-case outcome and still represents tremendous betting value.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Under 4.5 (-130 on Caesars Sportsbook)
Team-Specific First-Pick Positional Selection
I'll be honest, I feel far less certain about a few of these options compared to the picks above, but there's too much value out there not to mention. The conventional wisdom seems to suggest the Steelers are going to take either Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett with the idea that Pittsburgh would be the most aggressive
team to trade up to acquire one of the two. I understand a two-year, $14 million deal is hardly a marriage certificate when it comes to starting quarterbacks in the NFL, but I find it hard to believe that Mitch Trubisky, especially given how hot his market supposedly was entering the offseason, would so quickly sign with the Steelers if he wasn't more or less guaranteed the starting role next season. Offensive line still remains the glaring hole even after signing James Daniels away from the Bears, and in a draft full of capable bodies up front, I think the Steelers will be aggressive in adding quality talent to its meager offensive line depth chart.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Steelers First Pick: Offensive Line (+500 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
Just as an aside, if you're interested in doing any of these "X team first pick" bets, FanDuel offers by far the best odds for almost every team. My colleague Mario Puig mentioned this in his article Monday, but I think it's worth highlighting once again. It's not a sexy pick by any means, but the addition of Robert Woods gives the Titans some flexibility to add to their offensive line devoid of both a guard and right tackle.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Titans First Pick: Offensive Line (+210 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
This goes back to my player-specific breakdown at the top. Of the list of teams that could trade up for a quarterback, I think the Saints are surprisingly lower on said list than one might think. Michael Thomas theoretically should be back after a nearly two-year absence due to an ankle injury, but even if the All-Pro wide receiver was magically able to return to form, New Orleans is still in desperate need of a consistent playmaker. Any one of the aforementioned four wide receivers should be in play for one of the Saints' two first-round picks, it's just a matter of guessing what position comes first. Given what I think will be an arms race for wideouts during the first round, I think the Saints will choose to not sweat it out and just grab one at No. 16.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Saints First Pick: Wide Receiver (+210 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Miscellaneous Additional Props
NFL Draft Best Bet: Malik Willis/Ikem Ekwonu/Breece Hall all first selected for position (+250 on FanDuel)
This ended up being a hit last year and while I do believe there's a bit more variance this go around, I'd be shocked if this combo doesn't land. Yes, I'm putting a lot of faith in NFL teams correctly identifying Willis as the best quarterback prospect in this admittedly meager class which obviously can be concerning, but given the other two appear to be certainties, I like my chances.
NFL Draft Best Bet: Total TEs selected in Round 1 under 0.5 (-750 on BetMGM)
I'm never going to recommend something as a "bet the mortgage" type of thing. But if I did this, would probably be it. I'd consider looking at props for no tight end taken in Round 2, much less Round 1, so yeah, consider this an easy hit. Most sportsbooks had this in the -1000 range so BetMGM gives you the best value in that regard. Much like the aforementioned Ikem Ekwonu o/u, I can't imagine these odds will be up much longer, so grab them soon if you're interested.
NFL Draft Best Bet: ATL select Garrett Wilson/PHI select Chris Olave (+1600 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
Welcome to my favorite long-shot bet of this article. Obviously so much has to go right for something like this to hit, but just from the outside looking in, it's absolutely plausible to see both the Falcons and Eagles selecting these specific wide receivers. I fear Wilson could potentially go even earlier than No. 8 (ATL) and the Falcons could easily go another direction given they have holes almost literally across their entire roster, but this is a perfect fit/need type of deal. The same goes for Olave who, again, I believe will be at minimum a top-16 selection. None of the sportsbooks allow manually crafted parlays, probably for good reason, so something like this probably results in the best bang for your buck even if it's unlikely.