The NFL has long mastered the art of maintaining a healthy year-round news cycle. The draft and its expansive, months-long build-up is certainly a major component of the league’s offseason calendar. Despite being 11 months away, sportsbooks have already released 2022 NFL Draft odds on who will be the No. 1 overall pick.
As with the overwhelming majority of the sports calendar, 2021 marks a relative return to normalcy for college football. That alone should help produce what should be a more conventional, stable futures betting market for wagers on the first pick.
In contrast, 2020 featured a steady stream of uncertainty as the season itself was initially in doubt, some prominent players opted out of playing altogether, and big names like Trevor Lawrence missed games due to COVID-19 protocols.
Quarterbacks again at helm of 2022 NFL Draft odds
BetMGM currently has a full 2022 No. 1 overall pick futures betting market available.
Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Spencer Rattler sports the shortest odds as of late May. He impressed as a redshirt freshman last season with 3,031 yards and a 28:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio that he complemented with another six scores on the ground. However, he has another signal-caller right on his heels.
North Carolina junior Sam Howell, who racked up 7,227 passing yards and 74 total touchdowns (68 passing, six rushing) over his first two seasons with the Tar Heels, sits at a close second to Rattler, with the two players very likely to swap positions on the leaderboard at various points throughout the upcoming season.
The fact the top of the No. 1 overall pick market is top-heavy on quarterbacks – Rattler and Howell are followed by USC’s Kedon Slovis, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Georgia’s JT Daniels in the top 6, with LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. the only positional outlier of the group — is wholly unsurprising. Getting the right guy under center is still typically viewed as close to a panacea for a struggling NFL franchise.
As such, 16 of the 22 first overall picks this century have been invested on quarterbacks. The position currently enjoys a four-year streak of being taken at the top of the draft after the Jaguars nabbed Lawrence to kick off Day 1 this past April.
The remaining six No. 1 overall picks during that span were tellingly at positions that either try to take down or protect the guy under center — four were defensive ends and two were offensive tackles.
2022 NFL Draft Odds: No. 1 Overall Pick
Please note, NFL Draft odds are not available in some states.
QBs not a cure-all, even at top of draft
Naturally, there’s about as much hit, miss or somewhere in between associated with the guys who throw the ball as there are with the players who run it, catch it, intercept it and tackle those with it.
The most recent three quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick – Baker Mayfield (’18), Kyler Murray (’19) and Joe Burrow (’20) – appear to be working out nicely. However, the 12 others (excluding Lawrence) taken with top selection since the dawn of the millennium are a mixed bag.
Cam Newton (’11) may have seen his best days, but with a host of accolades that includes three Pro Bowls and both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, it’s safe to say he’s lived up to his pedigree.
The same can’t quite be said for Jameis Winston (’15) yet, despite some productive years in Tampa Bay; although, the FSU product could certainly change the narrative if he’s able to successfully establish his own legacy in New Orleans following the retirement of Drew Brees.
Michael Vick (’01) and Andrew Luck (’12) are in their own categories for different reasons. Vick’s elite athleticism was as good as advertised once he got the pros, but limitations as a passer and off-field issues capped his career ceiling. Luck often looked every bit the part when he was on the field, but an entire season wiped out by injury and an early retirement render him one of the biggest “what ifs” in the history of No. 1 overall picks at his position.
Eli Manning (’04) and Carson Palmer (’03) certainly did their draft slotting justice, while the just-retired Alex Smith (’05) didn’t exactly wow on the same level but authored a solid career. Matthew Stafford (’09) has been very productive and gets a fresh start in Los Angeles after a decade-plus of mostly misery in Motown. Jared Goff (’16) already has several notable accomplishments under his belt but will now have to make do with less talent around him in Detroit after being cast aside for Stafford.
The remaining three, David Carr (’02), JaMarcus Russell (’07) and Sam Bradford (’10) all fell short of expectations to varying degrees.
Carr, the first draft choice ever of the then-expansion Houston Texans, may have been one of toughest players at his position in recent memory when considering the merciless, career-altering beating he took behind a porous offensive line over his first few seasons.
Russell was simply an unmitigated bust, struggling on and off the field and never playing another NFL down after his first three seasons with the Raiders.
Bradford had what could be termed a serviceable career statistically. However, he ended up playing for four teams and getting benched for Josh Rosen at the end of his tenure, not exactly a ringing endorsement of his viability as a franchise-changing player.