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Oddsmakers Brace for Travon Walker, Evan Neal Liabilities for No. 1 Overall Pick in 2022 NFL Draft

Oddsmakers Brace for Travon Walker, Evan Neal Liabilities for No. 1 Overall Pick in 2022 NFL Draft article feature image
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Travon Walker.

  • Sportsbooks are bracing themselves for liabilities on Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.
  • There's one prospect that they're dreading more than the other, however.
  • Still, books like PointsBet stand to profit no matter who is picked.

Oddsmakers will be sweating on Thursday, hoping that their two biggest liabilities don’t get called up to the stage as the No. 1 overall pick. But regardless of the result, they’ll have made out like bandits by the time the night is over.

That’s because seven different players have already donned the moniker as the favorite to be selected first overall. Liability is spread so thin that books will win on that prop bet no matter who the pick is.

Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Travon Walker have all been tabbed as the most likely top pick since the market opened last July.

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Tickets on Thibodeaux and Ekwonu are unlikely. Wagers on Rattler and Howell are dead to rights. And, of course, only one of Walker, Hutchinson or Neal will emerge the winner.

Still, these are profit-centered enterprises — as every company is — and they’re looking to maximize their profits. For the draft, maximizing profit would require anyone other than Georgia’s Walker or Alabama’s Neal to be selected No. 1 overall.

At sportsbooks like PointsBet, Neal is the biggest liability, meaning the book would stand to lose the most if his name is called first on Thursday night.

But the book is more concerned about their position on Walker, a PointsBet representative told Action Network.

That’s because PointsBet holds a substantial handle for Walker to go first — at plus money. A majority of the wagers placed on Walker to go No. 1 overall were placed at +100 or better odds.

Walker had been +200 before Monday, when prognosticators around football began to signal that he was the most likely No. 1 overall selection.

The 20-year-old had opened as a +3000 underdog to be the No. 1 pick during the preseason, before he made his first start for the Bulldogs. That price is now -304.

While the sportsbook wouldn’t provide specific monetary figures, the Georgia defensive end represents just under 38% of the total handle on this prop, with over 20% of those bets at plus money.

Odds — and intel — will undoubtedly be ever-changing heading into Thursday, privy to the motives of a given team or player.

But as of Wednesday morning, books like PointsBet are praying the intel on Walker is a smokescreen — enough smoke that Hutchinson gets his name called first on Thursday. They’re not very hopeful.

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