NFL Draft Props Continue Growing In Popularity

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the Las Vegas strip.
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada sportsbooks are in their sixth year of taking action on NFL Draft props. And with each passing year since the 2018 Supreme Court decision overturning PASPA, NFL Draft odds have come online in more and more states.

This year, the Draft is actually in Las Vegas from April 28-30. (It’s a make-good after the 2020 draft, originally slated for Vegas, went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Sure, bringing the Draft to the desert is a nod to the fact Vegas is now an NFL city, as the home of the Raiders. It’s also a huge nod to the fact wagering on the NFL — even when it’s not on games — is what drives the American sports betting bus.

“Draft betting is still pretty much a new thing,” said Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sports. “Obviously holding the Draft here in Las Vegas is a big deal. Bettors in Nevada are more tuned into it. The fact that Vegas is hosting it should shed more light on it. It’s getting plenty of attention, and it’s gonna be a huge event.”

Pullen provided insights on this year’s event and highlighted a few popular 2022 NFL Draft prop bets in a conversation with

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Sharps Take Aim At NFL Draft Props

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence poses after being selected with the first overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft
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One thing that’s become glaringly noticeable in the short existence of NFL Draft betting is that it’s a sharp player’s market. Sure, the public will get involved with its favorite teams and players. But it’s nothing like the weekly handle of actual games, in which public money always outweighs sharp cash.

“There’s just not enough public action on the Draft to balance out the sharp action. That’s why the limits are low. That’s what you have to do,” Pullen said. “It’s not the bookmakers’ favorite event. It’s tough to book. The Draft is all information-driven. Say you’ve got a basketball game, and LeBron James is not going to play. You adjust the odds, but the game is still gonna be played.”

Which means there’s still a chance something unforeseen could happen. That’s not the case with the NFL Draft odds market. As such, oddsmakers are fully prepared for the Draft to be a loser on the bottom line.

“There’s no chance to it. The Draft is a complicated event for bookmakers,” Pullen said. “In some cases, it’s not whether you’re going to win or lose, but how much you’re going to lose.”

That said, bookmakers also recognize that betting on the NFL Draft is getting more popular each year. So despite the overall market being a likely loser for books, prop options continue to increase. Pullen has no doubt that NFL Draft props will draw record action this year.

“It’s expanded every year. There are so many things you can put up, and it just keeps growing,” Pullen said. “Talk of odds for the Draft is now more common. People understand the options of betting the Draft.”

Top Of The Props

In most U.S. jurisdictions, bettors can drop their cash on NFL prop bets right up until the 8 p.m. ET start of the first round April 28. There’s one notable holdout, and it happens to include the host city of Las Vegas. Nevada gaming regulations call for taking props off the board 24 hours before the Draft starts. So wagering on and around the Las Vegas Strip will halt at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT April 27.

“The 24-hour rule might be a bit of a hindrance,” Pullen said. “People like to bet right up until an event starts.”

However, he was quick to note that overall, Caesars still expects strong handle in Vegas and across the country, with NFL Draft wagering quickly becoming a rite of spring. “Along with the NBA playoffs, it’s right up there,” he said. “The Draft itself is a big event every year, and now the betting aspect is just gonna keep growing.”

So which props are most noteworthy as the first round approaches? Obviously, the No. 1 overall pick draws a lot of eyeballs. The perennially porous Jacksonville Jaguars hold that pick for the second straight year.

NFL Draft Odds: No. 1 Overall Pick

Aidan Hutchinson #DL31 of the Michigan Wolverines speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 4, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

As of April 21, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is the -200 favorite at Caesars in Nevada. Hutchinson is followed by fellow defensive end Travon Walker of Georgia, at +200. Then the odds stretch to +700 for Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and +850 for North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu.

“We’ve had the first pick up a few months now. It’s usually the best prop, but last year, everyone knew Trevor Lawrence would be No. 1,” Pullen said, referring to the Clemson quarterback whom Jacksonville snagged at the top of the 2021 draft. “Hutchinson has remained the favorite, and he and [Kayvon] Thibodeaux are the two most-talked-about players.”

Thibodeaux is yet another defensive end, having matriculated at Oregon. He’s the fifth option in the No. 1 pick market, at +2000.

NFL Draft Odds: First Quarterback

Malik Willis of the Liberty Flames prepares to throw the football down the field
Image Credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, so it’s no surprise this prop is popular every year. Liberty star Malik Willis is the -150 chalk at Caesars in Nevada, while Pittsburgh standout Kenny Pickett is the -140 second choice.

“It’s shaping up … to be a two-horse race between Willis and Pickett,” Pullen said. “Willis has been the favorite from the start. He opened in the -250 range, so Pickett is picking up some steam. Desmond Ridder looks like the worst case for us, [but] there’s no huge liability on that one.”

Ridder, who helped lead little Cincinnati to the 2021 College Football Playoff, is the +1000 third choice.

NFL Draft Odds: Position Props and More

LSU defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 5, 2022, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN.
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It’s apparent that Hutchinson will go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville, with Thibodeaux a strong candidate to go No. 2 to the Detroit Lions. From there, it gets interesting for oddsmakers and bettors alike.

“There’s a lot of attention on the third pick,” Pullen said. “So we’re not in a good position there if a cornerback is taken.”

The Houston Texans hold that No. 3 selection. Cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati) and Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) are both prospects — and liabilities — as the third overall choice. But neither is the favorite. Rather, N.C. State’s Ekwonu is the modest +240 chalk, followed by Gardner at +275, then Alabama’s Neal at +350 before Stingley checks in at +400.

Beyond that, Pullen said Caesars offers bettors a substantial NFL Draft props menu, and will continue adding options up to and perhaps during the Draft.

“We’ll have Mr. Irrelevant. I like that one,” Pullen said of the prop on which player will be selected last. “So we’ll be giving people betting options all the way until the end of the Draft.”