Bet like 'The Bear': Chris Fallica's top picks and plays for the NFL draft
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Chris FallicaESPN Staff Writer Close
- Lead researcher for "College GameDay" since 1996
- Voter on ESPN CFB Selection Committee
The 2022 NFL draft is upon us. Georgia DE Travon Walker has emerged as the consensus favorite to be top pick at sportsbooks, but what other players or props are worth betting on? Here are the bets I like and some "Bear Bytes" to help you navigate the draft.
The Bear's best bets
George Karlaftis over 22.5 (+130)
In a draft deep at defensive end, seems like a bit of a reach that Karlaftis would go this early. He keeps slipping on the odds, so you're getting a better price, and at best I think he goes back end of the first round.
Over 5.5 WRs selected in first round (-400)
When it comes to draft props, I'm more concerned about the number, not as much about the juice. If I can get a great number and have to lay juice, I'm OK with that, as I'm trusting and betting my information on the number. That's what I'm doing here. At minimum, I see six WRs going in the first round, possibly even seven. I totally understand those who don't like laying this big of a price, but for those who don't mind, this is worth a play.
Cleveland Browns first selected player - WR (+250)
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The Browns did bring in Amari Cooper, but given they lost Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins, they would be best served by adding to their WR unit to give Deshaun Watson as many weapons as possible. Picking early in the second round, Cleveland could have its pick of someone like George Pickens, Christian Watson or John Metchie III.
Exact draft order: No. 1 Travon Walker, No. 2 Aidan Hutchinson (-200); No. 1 Travon Walker, No. 2 Kayvon Thibodeaux (+350)
I'm of the mindset Travon Walker will go first overall. So I will try to maximize that by playing exactas with Aidan Hutchinson second, as well as Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has also been linked to the Lions. I'll shade it heavier toward Hutchinson, and if one of them hits, you're good.
• Alabama has had 38 players selected in the first round since 2010. That's 19 more than the next closest school (Ohio State). In addition, Alabama has had 59 players taken in the first two rounds in that span, 26 more than any other school.
Doug Kezirian's Top NFL Draft Plays
- O-linemen in 1st round: under 7.5 (-200)
- Ikem Ekwonu is 1st O-lineman drafted (-200)
- George Karlaftis over 21.5 (-140)
- Dax Hill under 28.5 (-120)
- Malik Willis over 9.5 (-200)
- Kenny Pickett over 12.5 (-175)
- Carolina drafts defensive lineman (15-1) with 1st pick (DK)
- Carolina drafts defensive back (14-1) with 1st pick (DK)
• In the past six years, 618 players have been selected on Days 1 and 2 of the NFL draft. Eighty-two of them (13.3%) have come from two schools: Alabama (43) and Ohio State (39). If one includes LSU (25), 107 of the 618, or 17.3% of the picks, came from those three schools.
• The only Wolverine to be selected No. 1 overall is T Jake Long, who went to the Dolphins in 2008. Long was also the last Michigan player selected higher than 10th. Since then, beginning with the 2009 draft, 44 different schools have had a player selected with the top nine picks in the draft.
Betting the NFL draft: Tips, tricks and best practices to cash in13hJoe Fortenbaugh
UGA's Walker consensus favorite to be No. 1 pick2dDavid Purdum2 Related
• Over the past six drafts, the Buckeyes have had seven players selected in the top 10. That's the most for any team.
• The last Boilermaker selected in the first round was Ryan Kerrigan, 16th overall to Washington in 2011. Since Kerrigan went in the first round, 74 different schools have had a first-round pick since the Boilermakers last did.
• The Longhorns have not had a first-round pick since DT Malcom Brown went to the Patriots with the final pick of the first round in 2015. This is the first time in the history of the common draft that Texas has gone six straight years without a first-round pick. Forty-six of 65 Power 5 schools have had at least one first-round pick in the past six drafts. Schools that have achieved something Texas hasn't over the past six drafts -- possessing a first-round pick -- are Alabama State, Duke, Temple, UCF, North Dakota State, Memphis, San Diego State, Tulsa, Northwestern, Wyoming, Western Michigan, Utah State and Louisiana Tech, along with Texas schools Baylor, Houston, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and UTSA.
• Garett Bolles (20th overall to the Broncos in 2017) was Utah's last first-round pick. It hasn't affected the Utes much, as beginning with 2016, Bolles' final year in Salt Lake City, the Utes have more wins (49) than any other Pac-12 team (Washington is second with 47).
• Since the turn of the century (2000 draft), only two Power 5 schools have not had a player selected in the first round -- Indiana, whose last first-round pick was WR Thomas Lewis in 1994, and Iowa State, whose only first-round pick was RB George Amundson in 1973. Could Breece Hall end that drought?
• In the past six years, 618 players have been selected in the first three rounds, and 282 of the 618 (45.6%) played in the SEC (175) or Big Ten (107). The ACC is next with 87, followed by the Pac-12 at 72 and Big 12 with 51. It's even more dramatic if you limit it to Round 1. Of the 191 players selected in the first round the past five years, 102, or 53.4%, played in either the SEC (66) or Big Ten (36).
• Since 2009, the Jets have selected four USC players in the first round. WR Drake London has been rumored to the Jets at pick No. 10.
• Since 2016, the Patriots have had four first-round picks. Three went to either Alabama (Mac Jones) or Georgia (Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel). Is there a prop where I can bet the Patriots will take either Nakobe Dean or Devonte Wyatt?