2022 NFL Draft: Odds, contenders and best bets to be the first offensive lineman drafted

Evan Neal of the Alabama Crimson Tide
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

The 2022 NFL Draft is less than 2 weeks away (it begins next Thursday). There is no clear-cut No. 1 choice even though Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is the favorite, so the 2022 festivities promise to be wildly entertaining. Even at most individual positions there is no obvious favorite to be the first player off the board. Things could get crazy in Las Vegas, as they have been known to do on occasion!

With the draft rapidly approaching, it’s time to break down how the offensive line position could play out. Let’s take a look at the odds and best bets to be the first OL selected.

Odds to be the first offensive lineman drafted

Odds available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

Ikem Ekwonu -180
Evan Neal +150
Charles Cross +1000
Trevor Penning +2000
Tyler Linderbaum +2500

Prediction: Ikem Ekwonu (-180)

Ikem Ekwonu recently passed Evan Neal as the favorite in this category. But the pass would have to be even more emphatic for me to suggest that Neal has the best value. Of the two, Ekwonu is the better beat to be the first offensive lineman off the board. You would be hard-pressed to find any mock draft published in the last week that has Neal being selected before Ekwonu. Once tagged with an over/under draft position of 5.5, Ekwonu’s number is now 3.5. The former N.C. State standout has a great chance of going No. 3 overall to the Houston Texans, while the New York Giants at No. 5 could be a destination for Neal.

To be clear, I don’t love the value on either Ekwonu at -180 or Neal at +150. Ekwonu would have to be around -130 and Neal would have to be at no less than +200 for me to jump on a bet. As it stands right now, I am more inclined to sprinkle some on a longshot.

Check out our wide receiver first pick preview

Longshot: Charles Cross (+1000)

Is anyone other than Ekwonu or Neal likely to go first? Clearly not, but at +1000 I think Cross has decent value. Most projections have cross going somewhere in the 6-13 range. Both the Texans and the Giants have a ton of needs, so there is not guarantee that either one will go the offensive line route. If both Ekwonu and Neal fall, all it takes is one sleeper team to like Cross more than that duo. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sleeper team. There are some reports out there that the G-Men like Cross the most, so if Houston doesn’t take an o-lineman this bet has a real chance of cashing.

Cross registers at 6’5’’ and 307 pounds. The former Mississippi State standout clocked a 4.95 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft and also helped himself with a great pro day. Cross was a pass-blocking specialist in college, but there is increasing optimism that his run-blocking skills are up to par and he can excel on the right side if necessary in the early stage of his NFL career.

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