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2022 NFL Draft First Round Best Bets
If there’s one thing we know about the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s that we know nothing. On the eve of football’s most significant offseason event, questions surround every potential pick, including the Jacksonville Jaguars’ first-overall selection.
However, with the sheer amount of draft intel floating around the Internet, we can pinpoint a few bets most likely to hit during Round 1 on Thursday.
Total Quarterbacks Drafted in First Round OVER 2.5 (-271)
We’ve all heard about how weak the 2022 quarterback class is over the last few months. No “can’t-miss” prospects like Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow are in this class. In fact, some experts believe no QB is worth a first-round pick.
That said, there’s a reason why the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of at least three QBs hearing their names called this Thursday.
We can safely expect two signal-callers to go in the first round; Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis. The real question is whether a third QB goes within the first 32 picks — and the answer should be a resounding “yes.”
Several quarterback-needy teams possess a top-10 pick, including the Detroit Lions (No. 2) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). Even if they pass on a QB early on, both could address the position in the late first, either with a pick they already own (Detroit possesses the 32nd pick) or by trading up.
First-round players all carry fifth-year options, which is necessary for a QB that turns into a star. Look for a team to take Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder or UNC’s Sam Howell near the end of the first to endure a fifth season for both.
Kayvon Thibodeaux Player Position OVER 4.5 (+130)
In the not-so-distant past, Kayvon Thibodeaux was the surefire prospect to go first overall. However, “character concerns” have plummeted the Oregon edge rusher’s stock, making him one of the draft’s biggest wild cards.
Personally, Thibodeaux’s personality feels similar to that of Myles Garrett’s, a star the Cleveland Browns have no regrets drafting in 2017. However, there’s too much smoke around the 21-year-old falling down the draft board to simply ignore it.
While nothing is guaranteed, the Jaguars and Lions look set to draft Georgia’s Travon Walker and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, two fellow edge rushers. The Houston Texans could go in various directions, but they seem more likely to target a cornerback or offensive lineman than Thibodeaux.
That leaves the New York Jets, who also possess the 10th pick of the draft. Although Thibodeaux is still the favorite to go fourth, there’s increasing chatter about New York’s preference for FSU’s Jermaine Johnson II. Additionally, if Houston drafts a CB, the Jets would be more inclined to go with an O-lineman like NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu.
Thibodeaux could go as high as second overall, but he could easily slide down to a team like the Seattle Seahawks at No. 9. At this point, it seems like his personality will precipitate his mini fall on draft day.
Ahmad Gardner Player Position UNDER 5.5 (-143)
In many respects, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is the anti-Thibodeaux. The Cincinnati cornerback had the on-field production and has the off-field traits teams are looking for in a CB1. He overwhelmingly surpassed LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. as the top cover man in this year’s class.
If all of the mocks and draft reports are correct, Sauce shouldn’t have to wait long before hearing his name called.
Early in the draft process, Gardner had a projected draft position of 8.5. It’s now 5.5, with some experts seeing a scenario where Detroit grabs him with the second-overall pick.
If not there, the Texans are reportedly in the corner market. While Stingley has gained traction recently, Gardner is still the overwhelming favorite to be the first CB taken on Thursday.
Gardner could still fall out of the top five, however. One plausible scenario is Walker and Hutchinson going 1-2, followed by the Texans taking Ekwonu and the Jets selecting Thibodeaux.
In that case, the OL-hungry New York Giants would likely draft either Evan Neal or Charles Cross at No. 5 before taking Gardner seventh overall.
Still, Gardner is widely considered one of the draft’s top prospects. In all likelihood, he won’t last past the first five selections.
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