Georgia standout Travon Walker has claimed favorite status ahead of Thursday’s first round, passing Michigan star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson as oddsmakers’ consensus favorite to be the first overall pick in this week’s NFL Draft, according to TheLines, which tracks odds in the U.S. regulated sports betting market.
Walker’s stock has risen dramatically in the three months since he and the Georgia Bulldogs won the National Championship. The edge rusher moved to minus money over the weekend and is now listed at -175 to be the first overall pick on Thursday, according to a consensus of the nation’s largest legal online sportsbooks — including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, and PointsBet. That means a bettor will win $75 for every $100 wagered if Walker is selected with the first overall pick, which is held by the Jacksonville Jaguars. To further illustrate his rise, BetMGM originally opened Walker at +3500 to be the first pick.
Hutchinson has slipped to plus money at a consensus +140 to be the top pick. He’s followed by North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu (+850), Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (+1600) and Oregon edge rusher Keyvon Thibodeaux (+2300).
While NFL Draft bettors have plenty of information at their hands in terms of college performance, NFL Combine results, Pro Day performances and more, selections are still largely based on educated speculation. Adding to the process is discerning which information to trust as NFL teams are known to hold picks close to the vest and generate smokescreens.
There’s no shortage of mock drafts and other tools of analysis available for bettors. And those with bona fide NFL insider credentials can have an influence. It’s not a complete coincidence that Walker rose to favorite status over the weekend after Sports Illustrated’s Peter King released his mock draft on Sunday. Walker was plus money at the time.
“While the media and other public information can influence line movement, bettors can also use that information to identify good values,” said Brett Collison, lead analyst for TheLines. “For example, the value on Hutchinson and Walker has fluctuated but there’s nothing to suggest the Jaguars won’t pick a top offensive lineman to help protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence, last year’s No. 1 pick. Action on Ekwonu or Neal provides great value at that point. Of course, the unknown of the draft is teams trading to change their draft position.”
Bettors don’t have to focus solely on draft position. Sportsbooks offer a number of other odds related to the draft. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is a consensus +5000 to be the first overall selection. But he’s -150 when it comes to being the first quarterback selected.
Another line available is the number of quarterbacks drafted in the first round. DraftKings has set the number at 2.5 with the over at -250 and under at +190.
A quarterback has been selected first overall in the last four drafts, but that seems unlikely this year as long as Jacksonville holds the first pick.