NFL odds: 4 early best bets for the NFL Draft

by Geoff Schwartz
FOX Sports NFL Analyst

With March Madness officially in the books, it’s time to turn our attention back to the best league in the world — the NFL† With the draft a little less than three weeks away, the fun is back.

Betting on the NFL Draft itself has become such a big spectacle, so let’s jump into some early odds. Here are some of the early bets I like around the event — with odds courtesy of FOX Bet.

First Overall Pick: Aidan Hutchinson -227 at FOX Bet

Let’s all not overthink this wager and just lay the juice. Here is why: The Jaguars have the first pick in the 2022 Draft, they don’t need a quarterback and the highest-graded players on their board will be offensive tackles or pass rushers.

Jacksonville is set at offensive lineman based on his offseason moves. The Jags franchisetagged left tackle Cam Robinson, signed guard Brandon Scherff and drafted Walker Little in the 2021 Draft. So we turn toward defensive ends. Hutchinson is the most polished in the class, and he’s ready to make an immediate impact in the NFL. This is a no brainer for the Jaguars.

First Quarterback Duties: Kenny Pickett +225 at FOX Bet

I like the plus money aspect of this bet. Kenny Pickett has less upside than the wagering favorite in Malik Willis, but he is ready to play now.

The first team that could draft a quarterback is Detroit at No. 2, and I don’t expect the Lions to grab one. A team that isn’t a quarterback away from competing for the Super Bowl needs to draft the best player on their board, which will not be Willis.

The next team to consider would be the Carolina Panthers at No. 6. They need a quarterback in the worst way, and Pickett can provide them with a QB who is ready to play sooner than Willis.

Pickett at +225 presents great value.

First Offensive Tackle Tasks: Evan Neal +115 at FOX Bet

I know Ikem Ekwonu is the wagering favorite and for good reason. Ickey is the more explosive player, and his ability to finish in the run game is impressive. It might be the best single thing an offensive lineman does in this class. special. However, his pass protection needs work. He’s too aggressive, which leads to him pass setting too far — known as oversetting — and getting beat inside.

On the other hand, Evan Neal is far smoother in pass protection, has played better competition and is more ready to pass protect in the NFL right now. His finish in the run game isn’t the same as Ickey, and while I can also get hypnotized by run-game finish, I’d select the better pass protector who has less to work on when they enter the league. I think teams agree with me.

Jermaine Johnson over 9.5 +100 at FOX Bet

The pass rusher from Florida State is believed to be ranked as the fourth-best defensive end in the NFL Draft, but there’s a decent chance he will be taken by pick nine.

I believe the first seven picks will be a combination of the top three pass rushers, two offensive linemen, one quarterback and one cornerback. That corner will most likely be Sauce Gardner, and I do not believe he will go any later than the Giants at seven.

That would leave Atlanta and Seattle at eight and nine. Both teams are desperate for a pass rusher, and Johnson is next in line. If Atlanta passes on him because of their draft board, we know Seattle will often “overdraft” someone they love. I could see that happening here, and like the even money value here.

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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