2022 NFL Draft Odds: RB

Odds, trends and analysis

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Each year, the running back position loses more of its value in the NFL Draft. Top-flight backs garner late first-round consideration, a far cry from top five picks like Ezekiel Elliott (2016) and Saquon Barkley (2018). Which running backs from this class are the top of the group? Will we see any of them taken in the first round? Here we look at NFL Draft odds for running backs.

NFL Draft odds: First RB drafted

The tea leaves read that Iowa State standout Breece Hall will be the first running back taken this year. In his final two seasons in Ames, Hall amassed over 3,000 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns, leading the nation in yards in 2020. Heisman finalist Kenneth Walker III is second on odds boards, but intrigue surrounds Georgia’s James Cook (brother of Vikings star Dalvin), who varies from longshot to the third-best odds to be picked first in the group.

The bottom line is, it’d be a surprise to see any of these guys get drafted in the first round. Running back-hungry teams like Buffalo are typically mocked linemen or other premium positions in their spots. Things get interesting at the start of the second round, where teams like Atlanta could be the first to pull the trigger.

Both Hall (+150) and Walker (+300) are plus-money on DraftKings Sportsbook’s top 32 odds.

Breece Hall
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-250
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-250
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-190
Kenneth Walker III
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+200
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+200
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+175
Isaiah Spiller
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+1500
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+1400
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+1200
James Cook
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+2000
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+1400
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+1400
Tyler Allgeier
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+2500
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OTB
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+2500
Brian Robinson Jr.
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+2500
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+5000
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+4000
Kyren Williams
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+2500
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+3500
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+3000
Dameon Pierce
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+2500
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+5000
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+4000

How to bet on first RB drafted

Most sportsbooks have a full slate of NFL Draft bets including the first player drafted at each position. To find this section click the NFL tab and find a tab for “First Pick by Position” then view the odds listed below.

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NFL Draft: 2022 RB profiles

Breece Hall, Iowa State

Hall has been the anointed top running back of this class since he first took the field in 2020. Despite a beleaguered season for the entire sport, Hall rushed for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns. He’s a capable pass catcher, having hauled in 36 passes in 2021, three of them for touchdowns. While being picked in the first round isn’t out of the question, it’s more likely Hall gets his name called in the second round. Look for teams like the Falcons or Texans to be a suitor earlier in that round.

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

Walker was among the four Heisman Trophy finalists in 2021 and the lone non-quarterback of the group. He transferred to Michigan State from Wake Forest where he had a true breakout season. Walker picked up over 1,600 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. So, why isn’t the Heisman finalist and Doak Walker Award winner the favorite to get picked first? Michigan State rarely used him in the passing game and versatility is a craved skill in the backfield.

James Cook, Georgia

Name recognition matters and James Cook’s got it. Of the group, Cook is the most capable pass catcher and has far less miles on him than his counterparts. Whereas Hall racked up 718 carries in college, Cook’s odometer is at just 230– an attractive stat for NFL executives. Like a car, running backs are viewed as a depreciating value and a heavy workload in college could spell disaster for draft stock. There’s been distant whispers of Cook being a possible spoiler for the first back off the board. At DraftKings Sportsbook, he’s +2500, but at BetMGM, he’s only +1400.

Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

In fantasy football circles, Isaiah Spiller is the talk of the town. Spiller posted two quiet 1,000-yard seasons at Texas A&M and rushed for nearly that mark as a freshman. He’s always been involved in the A&M passing game, hauling in at least 20 receptions in each of his three years. The end zone was hard to come by at times for A&M’s often-stagnant offense, though. Combine marks helped his case along and Spiller will likely be a Day 2 pick.

Will a RB be drafted in the first round?

DraftKings Sportsbook has a prop up for how many RBs will be picked in the first round:

  • Under 0.5 RBs picked in first round: -190
  • Over 0.5 RBs picked in first round: +145

To bet on this prop from DraftKings, go here.

NFL Draft RB history

Here is a list of the first RB taken in each NFL Draft going back to 2010.

YearTeamPlayerCollegePick (No. overall)
2021PittsburghNajee HarrisAlabamaNo. 24
2020Kansas CityClyde Edwards-HelaireLSUNo. 32
2019OaklandJosh JacobsAlabamaNo. 24
2018NY GiantsSaquon BarkleyPenn StateNo. 2
2017JacksonvilleLeonard FournetteLSUNo. 4
2016DallasEzekiel ElliottOhio StateNo. 4
2015St. LouisTodd GurleyGeorgiaNo. 10
2014TennesseeBishop SankeyWashingtonNo. 54
2013CincinnatiGio BernardUNCNo. 37
2012ClevelandTrent RichardsonAlabamaNo. 3
2011New OrleansMark IngramAlabamaNo. 28
2010BuffaloCJ SpillerClemsonNo. 9

NFL Draft odds: Strategy and trends

As mentioned, running backs are becoming a less and less desired position, especially in the draft. Two backs were taken in the first round last season: Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. However, just one was picked on Day 1 in 2020 (Clyde Edwards-Helaire). In 2013 and 2014, no backs were drafted in the first round.

When it comes to NFL Draft odds and betting, it’s important to think predictively. Whether or not you see Player X as the top player in the group, is that feeling shared among NFL front offices? Even draft rankings from experts should be taken with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, the executives are the ones drafting, not the scouts.

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