NFL

Alabama lineman could be top draft pick, per mocks

With the Super Bowl in the rear-view mirror, the attention turns to the NFL offseason. There’s plenty of intrigue throughout the league over where some top quarterbacks will be playing next season and which big-name players will be switching teams. However, my personal favorite part of the offseason is the draft.

Thankfully, you can bet on who you think will be the first overall pick of the upcoming draft at BetMGM. Odds will certainly fluctuate and get shorter as we get closer to the draft and we feel more certain in our projections. However, does getting out ahead of the news present a potential value this year?

Mock drafts are linking Jacksonville to Evan Neal

Mock drafts are the lifeblood of NFL draft season. Some mock drafts are nothing more than speculation and educated guesses. However, there are definitely mock drafters who are connected and use their sources throughout the league to hammer down specific selections.

For this article, I’ve taken a look at 40 mock drafts from 40 different football writers that have been published over the last month. You can find a compilation of mock drafts from around the internet at WalterFootball.

In those 40 mock drafts, Evan Neal was mocked as the first overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30 times (Yahoo Sports’ own mock draft expert, Eric Edholm, has Neal going No. 1). The offensive tackle out of Alabama fills a position of need for Jacksonville as it looks to protect Trevor Lawrence and give him a legitimate opportunity to take a step forward in his sophomore year.

Despite 75% of mock drafters linking Neal to the Jaguars, he is not the betting favorite. Neal is currently +175 to be the first player taken on April 28.

Evan Neal is the most popular player in mock drafts to be the first player taken in the NFL draft. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Aidan Hutchinson is the betting favorite

Aidan Hutchinson, a defensive end out of Michigan, is the current betting favorite to be the first player taken. Hutchinson is +165 to be the first player off the board come late April.

Despite the fact that he’s the betting favorite, just five of 40 mock drafts have the Jaguars selecting the Michigan product with the first overall pick. Is this a case of the betting market being wrong, or is this a case of the betting market trying to tell us something?

Kayvon Thibodeaux was considered the top prospect in the draft for the majority of the college football season, but as the draft gets closer, it seems like he’s getting less attention. Just three of 40 mock drafts have Jacksonville selecting the pass rusher out of Oregon. Thibodeaux is +350 to be the first player taken in the draft.

The only other player that has been mocked to the Jaguars is Ikem Ekwonu, an offensive tackle out of NC State. Ekwonu has been mocked to the Jaguars just twice in the 40 mock drafts I analyzed. Ekwonu is currently +400 to be the first player selected.

Any long-shots?

Nobody outside of Neal, Hutchinson, Thibodeaux and Ekwonu has been mocked to the Jaguars in the 40 drafts that were analyzed. It seems like it’s a good bet that one of those four will be the first player taken. Below are the odds for some other highly regarded players that might be taken elsewhere in the early first round:

  • Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State (30-to-1)

  • Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame (80-to-1)

  • Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback, LSU (100-to-1)

  • Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (125-to-1)

  • George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue (150-to-1)

  • Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa (150-to-1)

Usually, the closer we get to the draft, the more we begin to hear about quarterbacks that aren’t originally on our radar. In 2018, Baker Mayfield shot up the draft board and ended up being the first overall pick. In 2021, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance‘s stocks both rose en route to being the second and third overall picks respectively.

The Jaguars almost certainly won’t be taking a quarterback as they just drafted Trevor Lawrence last year. There’s always the possibility that a team might trade up to draft a quarterback, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any quarterback in this year’s draft class that is worth trading up for. Nevertheless, here are the betting odds for some of this year’s top quarterback prospects to be the first overall pick:

  • Malik Willis, Liberty (30-to-1)

  • Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (40-to-1)

  • Sam Howell, North Carolina (66-to-1)

  • Matt Corral, Ole Miss (66-to-1)

  • Carson Strong, Nevada (150-to-1)

  • Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (150-to-1)


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