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Youmans NFL mock draft 1.0: All eyes on Lions at No. 2

April 19, 2022 08:21 AM
USATSI_17105545

It’s unusual for quarterbacks not to headline the NFL draft, but this year’s event in Las Vegas will be a rarity unless the Lions do something strange and roll the dice on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the No. 2 pick.

The draft often puts the league’s biggest losers in the spotlight, which is why the Lions are typically on the clock early. After the Jaguars make the No. 1 pick for the second consecutive year, things will start to get interesting and possibly surprising with Detroit’s decision to go with a defensive player, gamble on a quarterback or trade down.

If there seems to be a lack of hype preceding the first round on April 28, it has a lot to do with the lack of star quarterbacks. Ironically, the first draft to be staged in Las Vegas could be dull in terms of wagering action.

“We usually have had a high-profile quarterback, but you’re going to see defensive ends and offensive linemen go early,” DraftKings sportsbook director John Avello said. “Maybe this event has become so popular that it’s not going to make a difference.”

NFL trends indicate the show will be a big hit on the Strip and we will find several ways to bet on it. So far, Avello said, the wagering has been in slow motion.

“We’ve got a lot of props, and we’re taking a little something,” he said. “This will get hot and heavy about 10 days out. The last week is when you see the biggest moves and that happens every year.”

This could be the first time since 2014, when the Jaguars took Blake Bortles with the No. 3 pick, that a quarterback is not selected first or second. The Texans made defensive end Jadeveon Clowney the top pick that year. The Rams took Auburn tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2.

In 2015, quarterbacks went first (Jameis Winston, Buccaneers) and second (Marcus Mariota, Titans). In 2016, quarterbacks again went first (Jared Goff, Rams) and second (Carson Wentz, Eagles).

The 2017 draft was headlined by defensive end Myles Garrett, who was the No. 1 pick by the Browns. The Bears traded up for the second pick and took quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The best quarterbacks in that draft went 10th (Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs) and 11th (Deshaun Watson, Texans).

Four quarterbacks were selected in the top 10 in 2018, when Baker Mayfield went first to the Browns. The best of that class was Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick by the Bills. In 2019, quarterback Kyler Murray was the No. 1 pick by the Cardinals.

The 2020 draft, originally scheduled for Las Vegas, was conducted via videoconference with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing picks from his home during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all other major sporting events canceled, draft betting boomed. Three quarterbacks went in the top six picks, led by Joe Burrow at No. 1 to the Bengals.

Last year, quarterbacks went first (Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars), second (Zach Wilson, Jets) and third (Trey Lance, 49ers). Two more were picked in the first round, with Justin Fields going 11th to the Bears and Mac Jones going 15th to the Patriots.

How many quarterbacks will go in this year’s first round? DraftKings set the prop total at 2.5 (Over -225). Station Casinos in Las Vegas set the total at 3 (-115 each way). Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett appear to be certainties, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder is gaining steam as a potential first-round pick.

The Lions, who also hold the 32nd and final pick of the first round, are in the quarterback prop spotlight and the moves they make could turn mock drafts upside down.

How many wide receivers will go in the first round? DraftKings set the prop total at 5.5 (Over -165). Station Casinos opened its total at 6 (-115 each way). I expect a big run on a talented receiver class and recommend Over 5.5 as a best bet.

My first mock draft, which projects seven receivers in the first round, is a rough draft. With more props starting to surface in the market, I’ll search for best bets to add along with a final mock for next week’s VSiN Draft Betting Guide.

Matt Youmans’ first mock draft

Quarterbacks in bold

1. Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

2. Lions: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

3. Texans: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State

4. Jets: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

5. Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

6. Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

7. Giants: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

8. Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC

9. Seahawks: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

10. Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

11. Commanders: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

12. Vikings: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

13. Texans: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

14. Ravens: Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State

15. Eagles: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

16. Saints: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

17. Chargers: Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah

18. Eagles: Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia

19. Saints: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

20. Steelers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

21. Patriots: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

22. Packers: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

23. Cardinals: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

24. Cowboys: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

25. Bills: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

26. Titans: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

27. Buccaneers: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

28. Packers: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

29. Chiefs: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

30. Chiefs: Boye Mafe, OLB, Minnesota

31. Bengals: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

32. Lions: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

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