2022 NFL Draft Odds: How I’m Betting The First Round

Written By Brett Gibbons on April 28, 2022
NFL Draft bets

The NFL Draft is an underrated and fast-growing betting market. How am I approaching betting the first round, especially in a year where so little is certain? Is there much value to bet had in 2022 NFL Draft Bets?

Bookmark this page and check in between now and Thursday to see bets for the first round of the NFL Draft. For complete coverage of NFL Draft odds, follow our Twitter or check out our draft page here.

2022 NFL Draft Bets: Round 1

Betting on the NFL Draft can be rewarding for those who pay attention. Bookmakers I spoke to have explained to be that setting prices for the draft is a “nightmare.” The reasoning behind that is multi-fold: Teams intentionally lie to put other teams (and media) off their tail, and there’s a high potential for insider trading. My approach is to look for prices that conflict with reputable sources.

Note: I grabbed bets a couple week ago (Travon Walker first overall +330) that I’m not including here. Unfortunately, those numbers won’t do you any good at this time since they’re long gone.

Ahmad Gardner: Top Five Overall Pick (+135)

Placed April 14 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Here’s another one from a couple of weeks ago that’s generated value. Gardner is currently -125 to be a top-five guy, and there’s a ton of silent steam behind him. Once seen as a mid-first round player, Gardner quickly shot up draft boards. The Jets and Giants are both strongly rumored to be interested in Sauce ⁠— potentially igniting a bidding war.

Recent trendy mock drafts put Gardner as high as second to the Lions. While that’s unlikely, weirder things have happened on draft day. The Jets nabbing him at fourth overall is a realistic possibility too. With so much talent at pass rusher and no real consensus on top guys, a team could employ a best player available (BPA) approach and pull the trigger.

Moreover, Caesars Sportsbook has his draft position prop at 5.5 with juice on the under (-145). But if you’ve already bet top-five +135 and decide to also wager over 5.5 (+115), you’re guaranteed a win and to come out ahead.

Desmond Ridder: First quarterback drafted (+550)

Placed at +1500 April 15 at DraftKings Sportsbook

I placed this bet two weeks ago before books reacted to some intriguing news. The Seattle Seahawks, who draft ninth, only met with Desmond Ridder at their top 30 pre-draft visits. No Malik Willis, no Kenny Pickett. Since the odds have adjusted, Ridder’s down to +550 (CLV!). He’s got more size than Willis and was a renowned leader at Cincinnati.

With no consensus QB1, this is an excellent opportunity to dig deep. I put a quarter unit down on it, and I’d recommend doing the same. Don’t lay the mortgage, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward pick that’s gained serious traction over the last few days.

Trevor Penning: Top 10 Overall Pick (+500)

Placed April 25 at DraftKings Sportsbook

There’s too strong a connection between Penning and Giants GM Joe Schoen, who drafted another Northern Iowa offensive lineman last year when he was with Buffalo (Spencer Brown). Following New York’s “tough guy” attitude, Penning fits the culture. Should Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, and Charles Cross all go in the first few picks, it’s not unrealistic to think Penning gets taken at No. 7 overall.

At the very least, his ties to teams inside the top 10 suggests higher than a 16.7% probability than his current odds suggest.

Devin Lloyd: Top 10 Overall Pick (+750)

Placed April 25 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Lloyd is the LB1 on the board after some early-cycle deliberation between he and Georgia’s Nakobe Dean. A linebacker’s been drafted in the first 10 picks in 10 of the last 12 drafts dating back to 2010. With the excellence of Micah Parsons on Dallas this past year (earning Defensive ROY), linebacker is a position some teams value.

You won’t find terribly many mock drafts pitting Lloyd inside the top 10, but NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah did so back in January. It’s not the first mock he put out suggesting a top-10 Lloyd. At +750, it’s an interesting prop to put a fraction of a unit down on (I opted for 0.25u). DJ does rank him 13th in his top-150 prospects as well.

UNDER 3.5 Quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 (-250)

Placed April 26 at FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel is giving you an entire extra quarterback to play with — albeit at less valuable odds. There’s three guys max that will be taken in the first round: Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, and possibly the aforementioned Ridder. If you’re feeling confident, you can roll with U2.5 QBs (+190) for better odds. The consensus around the league is that no one is excited about this quarterback room, especially with the upcoming class.

Teams in a position to draft a rookie quarterback are fairly scant, too:

  • Panthers (though recent developments lean away from a QB here)
  • Falcons (Arthur Smith signed Marcus Mariota, a QB he’s instilled confidence in previously at Tennessee)
  • Seahawks (word is they’re interested in offensive linemen or Derek Stingley Jr.)
  • Saints (though the signing of Andy Dalton casts doubt on this year)
  • Steelers (signed the one and only Mitchell Trubisky)

Assuming three of these teams either wait until Round 2 or later or next year for a quarterback, then U2.5 hits. If U2.5 hits, U3.5 really hits.

Jermaine Johnson II: Top five overall pick (+330)

Placed April 27 at DraftKings Sportsbook

There’s a very strong growing sentiment that the Jets prefer Jermaine Johnson II at four over Kayvon Thibodeaux. The only hesitation here is that they’re reported to be “unlikely to pass on Ikem Ekwonu” at that spot and there’s massive uncertainty around what Houston will do at three. I’m rolling the dice on Houston to go Ekwonu at three (or, hell, even to Jacksonville first overall).

Chris Olave: Second WR drafted (+900)

Placed April 28 at DraftKings Sportsbook

In multiple places, ESPN’s Todd McShay said that the Washington Commanders are high on Chris Olave. He attributes multiple league sources expecting Olave to be the pick at 11. The way the board may fall– with Atlanta rumored to be strongly interested in Thibodeaux or Jermaine Johnson II at eight– the Jets at 10 may be the first team to draft a receiver. If the Commanders are dead set on Olave, he’ll end up being the second receiver off the board.

With all of the connections and reports, there seems like a greater than 10% chance the board falls London/Wilson, then Olave.

More NFL Draft Betting Resources

Understanding where you should and should not bet in the NFL Draft can be difficult. This past offseason, our team’s written multiple articles on NFL rumors, steam, and what you should and should not be buying into. For a list of more NFL Draft betting resource, click on the links below:

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons