Best Bets For 2022 NFL Draft's No. 1 Pick

Photo: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason continues into June when we fill our hours with film study, clinics, and pointless arguments that won’t’ be resolved until the season. It’s a pretty good time, of course, and it’s made only more enjoyable by placing way-too-early bets on the rising NFL season and draft cycle. 

Today, we’re looking at 2022 NFL Draft odds; yes, even 330-odd days away. Namely, who will be the first-overall pick.

Here are the odds that are currently listed at BetOnline:

  • Spencer Rattler (+140)
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux (+275)
  • Sam Howell (+450)
  • Malik Willis (+750)
  • Kedon Slovis (+1200)
  • Tyler Shough (+1400)
  • JT Daniels (+1800)
  • Derek Stingley Jr. (+2000)
  • Desmond Ridder (+2000)
  • Sevyn Banks (+3300)

Betting the first-overall pick comes down to three positions: quarterback, EDGE, and offensive tackle. The last top selection to play a different position was New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson out of USC, all the way back in 1996. Since then, three tackles, four edges, and a whopping 18 quarterbacks have been selected with the first-overall pick.

The betting markets already know this. Only two players outside of those premium positions are listed, both cornerbacks—LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. and Ohio State’s Sevyn Banks—each with odds at +2000 or worse. While both have had moments of excellent play, we have literally never seen a corner drafted first during the modern era of football. So, we’re passing on both. And that leaves us with a slew of quarterbacks and one EDGE: Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. In a weak quarterback class and with two seasons of dominant play, Thibodeaux is deserving of mention here; but his +275 price beats out all quarterbacks save for one: Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. This is deserving, though it has more to do with the quarterback class than anything else. While I respect the possibilities that players like Liberty’s Malik Willis and Georgia’s JT Daniels both have a ton of stock to gain with improved seasons, I simply do not see top-end talent in the quarterback class beyond Rattler. Even Rattler, who has an arm to die for, is markedly more wild and inconsistent than Oklahoma passers of the past. He needs to get better this year.

But there’s the reason for faith with Rattler. Two of Riley’s last three quarterbacks have been selected first overall, and both teams that grabbed Sooner passers are happy with their investments. Oklahoma’s offense was far younger than usual last season, and Rattler’s growth with a largely returning offensive line and wide receiving corps should lead to improved play. Throw in the fact that Rattler’s arm and natural instinct as a thrower are definitely better than Baker Mayfield’s and probably better than Kyler Murray’s, and describing his path to the cardinal spot isn’t hard.

Rattler Clip

As such, I honestly like the chalky picks best. Rattler and Thibodeaux are the only two players I really see in the race at this time. Regular followers of the NFL draft will recognize that nobody saw Mayfield in the race in 2018, nor Murray in the race in 2019, nor Joe Burrow in the race in 2020. But those weren’t players who floated around on the bottom of the list, as is the case with Tyler Shough or Desmond Ridder, who were off of it entirely. If you’re expecting a sudden surge from a relatively unknown passer, the edge isn’t available in taking any of the listed players; the edge is avoiding this market entirely.

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Senior CFB Writer

Benjamin Solak is a Senior College Football Writer for The Draft Network and co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft podcast.