NFL Draft Rumors Suggest Aidan Hutchinson Mispriced To Be No. 1 Pick

Written By Brett Gibbons on April 25, 2022
Travon Walker

NFL Draft odds are going to be on the move. Just as “smokescreen season” in the draft cycle ramps up, there’s one bit of steam that’s may prove Aidan Hutchinson is mispriced as a heavy favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick. There are growing reports Georgia defensive end Travon Walker may be the pick for the Jaguars.

Where is this steam coming from? How did we get here? Should you be considering betting on the first overall pick? Click the odds below to bet now.

NFL Draft Odds: First Overall Pick

NFL Draft Odds: First Overall Pick

Travon Walker
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-450
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-450
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-450
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-320
Aidan Hutchinson
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+400
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+500
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+400
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+400
Ikem Ekwonu
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+750
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+700
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+400
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+300
Evan Neal
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+2000
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+2500
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+2000
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+1500
Kayvon Thibodeaux
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+5000
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+5500
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+3000
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+5000
Kenny Pickett
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+10000
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OTB
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+25000
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+12500
Charles Cross
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+10000
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OTB
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+10000
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+10000
Derek Stingley Jr.
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+10000
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OTB
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+15000
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+15000
Malik Willis
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+10000
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+5000
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+5000
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+8000
Ahmad Gardner
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+10000
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OTB
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+10000
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+12500
Kyle Hamilton
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+10000
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OTB
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+15000
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+12500
Jermaine Johnson II
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+10000
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OTB
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OTB
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+12500
Zion Johnson
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+20000
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OTB
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OTB
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+25000
Drake London
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+20000
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OTB
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OTB
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+25000

Odds listed below are as of 12:00 p.m. ET on April 18.

Travon Walker Draft Stock Skyrockets

For months, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson was the strong favorite. He climbed to as high as -300 to be the No.1 1 pick. When I first wrote about NFL Draft odds back in February, Walker wasn’t even listed on the board; his odds were longer than +20000 and therefore didn’t make the cut. This was pre-Senior Bowl, pre-Combine, and pre-Pro Day.

Walker tested extremely well throughout the offseason and heads started turning around NFL Draft media. He rose from a non-contender for the first round to top-10; some daring mocks even had him going fifth to the New York Giants. Still, he wasn’t in the first overall consideration.

It was at this point that the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly tagged offensive tackle Cam Robinson. In the preceding weeks, an offensive tackle was the trendy mocked position here and the Jags were being projected as taking Alabama’s Evan Neal. But the tagging of Robinson drastically changed the board and Hutchinson ascended to the top very quickly.

In late March, Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote in a mock draft piece, “don’t count out Georgia’s Travon Walker as a realistic possibility here. Talking to sources around the league, they believe the toolsy Georgia defensive lineman has the rare traits that [Jaguars GM] Trent Baalke will strongly consider at No. 1.” This bit of info went largely ignored around major media outlets and draft analysts.

Then, on April 12, the dam burst and network personalities like Cris Colinsworth began championing Walker first overall.

Lance Zierlein On Travon Walker

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein jumped on The Athletic Football Show and shared his mock draft that featured Walker in that top spot. On the podcast, Zierlein was asked about his confidence in the Georgia pass rusher being picked first overall.

“[The decision] was easy. I had some information given to me about three weeks ago. It was a pretty reliable source,” Zierlein said. “[They] said I should plug in Travon Walker at number one in my next mock draft.”

He referenced Baalke’s previous draft tendencies by drafting “toolsy” guys like Aldon Smith. Baalke was the GM in San Francisco at the time and selected Smith seventh overall in 2011.

“I’ve done this long enough to know the traits … when he had his workout, there was no doubt to me Travon Walker was going to shoot up the boards. But in talking to NFL teams, that’s the guy they’re getting excited about,” Zierlein said.

Zierlein also mentioned since first hearing Walker No. 1 three weeks ago, that all the NFL personalities parroting the same talking points he heard opened the possibility in his mind it might be the Jaguars trying to generate a trade for the No. 1 pick by using the trendy, athletic freak of nature as the bait. If that is true though, it’s still another path for Walker to go No. 1 overall.

NFL Draft Odds Movement Imminent

If you’re quick, Travon Walker No. 1 overall is still well in the plus money, with +350 being available as of Wednesday at FanDuel Sportsbook. Ultimately, with this much notable steam surrounding the pass rusher, that price will not last. But how do we know this isn’t smoke?

Typically, teams will put out misleading information ahead of the draft to get other teams off “their guy.” A terrific example of that steam was last year’s draft where rumors speculated the 49ers would take quarterback Mac Jones third overall. Instead, the 49ers pulled the trigger on Trey Lance. It appeared that could have originated though from one man’s opinion that lacked 49ers sourcing, and it snowballed into many in NFL circles speculating the same wrong information.

The difference here is Zierlein says he trusts his longtime source. Plus, the difference with having the first overall pick is that no team can trade up and take their guy. When there’s momentum surrounding the first overall pick late in the draft cycle, it’s oftentimes true.

April 18 Update: Walker’s odds continue to shorten and he’s now down to +200 or lower at many books.

April 25 Update: Travon Walker is now the odds-on favorite to be picked No. 1, with his shortest odds coming at Caesars Sportsbook (-200). There was a major weekend shift heading into draft week that also saw a huge dip in odds for NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu.

BetMGM Trader On Making NFL Draft Lines

Back in March, I spoke to BetMGM trader Christian Cipolini on factors that make and influence NFL Draft odds.

“The draft is a bit of a nightmare from a book making perspective. [T]here’s a ton of factors,” he wrote. “[W]e mostly are relying on sharp info, but [it’s] a combo of any sort of information we can get our hands on [that sets our lines].”

He also cited smoke screens and potential for insider trading making setting draft lines difficult. In short, it seems book makers are oftentimes guessing when it comes to draft props– something aware bettors can take advantage of.

Walker’s odds to be the No. 1 pick at BetMGM opened at +3500 and have slowly shortened.

Should You Follow Travon Walker Steam?

The bottom line is, it’s your decision on whether or not you buy into NFL Draft steam. Walker’s price at +350 is a 22.2% implied probability that he’s selected first overall by the Jaguars. With multiple reliable sources leaning Walker at No. 1, 22.2% seems pretty low.

On the flip side, Aidan Hutchinson is -280 to be selected first overall, an implied probability of 73.7%. That hefty price will guarantee value on Walker for at least a little longer. If you’re on the other side of the fence on this one and waited for Walker’s price to drop and Hutchinson’s to lengthen, that proved to be beneficial for closing line value (CLV).

As far as Walker’s CLV, the absolute peak window is closed. However, what reliable league sources and what books are telling you conflict at the time this post was published.

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Brett Gibbons Avatar
Written by
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