Betting: 4 interesting prop bets we like as NFL draft gets closer

·6-min read

We are closing in on the 2022 NFL draft, and from a handicapping standpoint this draft appears to be a tougher nut to crack.

There is a lack of clarity on the quarterback position in general, and the top picks are a hazy projection at the moment. We don't truly know who the first overall pick is right now, and it's having a ripple effect on the rest of the picks.

Quarterback prop bets are a popular play in any draft cycle, but BetMGM currently isn't even offering a ton in the form of QB prop bets outside of the first one to be selected (Malik Willis is the strong favorite now at -155).

That's a sign, we believe, of just how murky this draft class is. But there are still some wagers we are tempted by as we sit just over a week away from Round 1 on April 28.

Here are four prop bets that we like. But don't hesitate on putting your money down — typically, we see a flood of information in the five or six days prior to the draft, which could shift the odds out of your favor.

First wide receiver drafted — Chris Olave (+1600)

Let's start out with my long shot pick, but it's one we really like.

This number (+1600) is just too big. You’ve seen the lion's share of mock drafts with Olave going off the board in the 15-25 range, let’s say, and I get why. But I think there is a team that really likes Olave sitting at No. 11.

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera has been to about four pro days since becoming a head coach. I’m serious. And this counts his time in Carolina, too. If we recall, he went to Cam Newton’s and Christian McCaffrey’s pro days. (The third escapes our memory.) But Rivera was at Ohio State’s pro day this year, and I don’t believe he was seen at another in this pre-draft cycle. That's notable.

So what does that tell you? Rivera only goes to pro days if he really likes a guy. The problem? Ohio State has two guys — at the same position.

Ohio State WR Chris Olave performed well at his pro day. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Ohio State WR Chris Olave performed well at his pro day. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Realistically, it could be Garrett Wilson. After all, Wilson is the current favorite to be the first receiver drafted at +115, followed by Jameson Williams (+160) and Drake London (+210). No other receiver is listed at lower than +1400.

But there’s not much value in the Wilson bet, and the Olave number just feels wildly high to me. If I lose, eh, what are you gonna do? But those odds are just silly to me.

Rivera was seen spending a lot of time talking with Olave at the pro day, and though it only makes sense that the coach would have done the same with Wilson, I just have a feeling he really likes Olave.

Wilson going at 10 to the Jets, followed by Olave at 11, would really spoil my first-round supper. And it really could happen. So that’s the gut-shot scenario. But again, at that bloated number I’ll take my chances every day of the week.

Olave draft position — under 17.5 (+100)

See above. Trying to double dip here, although if you want to hedge and go the other way, so be it. I just think you’ll lose that bet, and losing stinks.

Even if Olave to Washington doesn't happen, we think a big Round 1 run on receivers is coming. Once the first one goes off the board, others should follow quickly, like dominoes. That very much puts him in play from picks 12 through 17, with some trades up likely to be in play.

Ahmad Gardner draft position — under 7.5 (-165)

It’s not a great payoff, but having at least three very realistic landing spots — Nos. 5, 6 and 7, along with a few possible ones before that — come up before we hit the over, it feels like easy money, even if it’s not a lot more of it.

Even after Derek Stingley's strong pro-day effort, we don't see him surpassing "Sauce" as the first corner drafted. Gardner rates as one of the stronger prospects regardless of position in what looks like a softer top part of the draft, at least compared to the heavyweight 2021 NFL draft.

Gardner might not be in play with the first two overall selections, but we think he's got a shot at every spot from Nos. 3 to 7.

Travon Walker, 3rd pick — (+400)

Walker has been connected to each of the first three picks in the draft, which scares me a bit. But you can't rule out Aidan Hutchinson going first and Kayvon Thibodeaux second. Which puts Walker squarely in the crosshairs at three.

Betting on a player landing at a specific spot outside of the top two feels a bit like playing the numbers in roulette. But there's enough appeal here for us to give it a shot at these odds.

Thibodeaux has a chance to slide out of the top five, but the Lions are the team most likely, I believe, to prevent that. I don’t see either New York team being in on him. Same with Houston. We don’t really know how new Giants GM Joe Schoen is going to perform in his maiden draft, so it’s just a guess that he’d pass on Thibodeaux.

The Lions, though, have done a lot of work on Thibodeaux. They likely relied on Penei Sewell and the contacts (and trust) the Lions built while scouting Sewell for character references, even with a recent staff change at Oregon.

Georgia's Travon Walker is more traits than production as an NFL prospect, which could prevent him from being picked first or second. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Georgia's Travon Walker is more traits than production as an NFL prospect, which could prevent him from being picked first or second. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Anyway, this is an elongated way of saying I don’t want to gamble on Thibodeaux’s landing spot. Detroit feels like the trap team that can spoil the party for the “over” play (right now it’s at -140 for a 5.5 o/u). If the Lions pass on him, we could see Thibodeaux sliding past the fifth pick. He's +200 to be picked second, which is tempting, but we'd like it better at a bit higher number. We doubt it goes that direction the closer we get to the draft.

I’m also not buying Malik Willis to Detroit at 2. Yes, I believe the Lions like him and could consider him … but later on. Two just feels way too high for him, even with all of Willis' exciting upside. Realistically, this feels like the Lions putting a “For Sale” sign on the No. 2 pick, and I just don’t see anyone biting. Detroit might be stuck at two.

Yeah, Walker could go one or two. But does that feel like the most plausible situation? He’s a really good player, but at what point prior to February was anyone really arguing that Walker was a better all-around football player — and NFL prospect — than Thibodeaux?

The Texans could totally clown us here by picking an offensive lineman. It’s not some wild concept. But adding a player who checks off a lot of Texans-ish boxes in Walker also feels pretty solid. So even with some trapdoors here, +400 is just tasty enough for me to play what feels like a solid shot with Walker landing in the three hole.

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