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Oregon's Thibodeaux narrowly favored to be selected first in 2022 NFL Draft

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

December 22nd, 2021

College football’s bowl season is in full swing. It’s traditionally the time when many of the game’s top prospects either get one last chance to strut their stuff in a competitive environment before the NFL Draft or opt out to prepare for the event that acts as an introduction to the league.

Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux chose the latter option. He won’t suit up for the Pac-12 stalwarts as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners, as he has his eye on potentially being the 2022 draft’s first overall pick.

Thibodeaux is top of the charts... for now

The betting markets say he’s one of two players with a huge shot at that honor. He’s the narrow favorite to be taken No. 1 over fellow defensive standout Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan. Both have negative odds, with Thibodeaux available at -137 and Hutchinson close behind at -134. It’s a long way back to third choice Matt Corral, who sits at +700 after a stellar season quarterbacking Ole Miss.

First Overall Draft Odds

Kayvon Thibodeaux
Aidan Hutchinson
Matt Corral
Evan Neal
Kenny Pickett

Jets and Jags could both use help defensively

Much of the intrigue surrounding the top pick, of course, will be driven by the team that "earns" the dubious distinction. Currently, the Jacksonville Jaguars lead the race to the bottom with a 2-12 record, with the Detroit Lions close behind at 2-11-1. The Houston Texans and New York Jets are also in the mix at 3-11.

The Jaguars and Jets each drafted quarterbacks in the first round of the 2021 draft, and it’s tough to forecast those teams taking signal-callers in back-to-back years. The Lions and Texans, however, have no such answers under center. Jared Goff hasn’t been able to do much for Detroit, and the same can be said for the combination of Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills in Houston.

This week’s matchup between the Jags and Jets is huge, especially as far as forecasting the top pick is concerned. If Jacksonville stays in that spot, it’s a near-certainty they’ll take a defensive player, and Thibodeaux and Hutchinson are by far the two best prospects. However, a Jacksonville win, coupled with a Detroit loss at Atlanta, would cause a change in draft order. That’s far from inconceivable.

Don't overlook Corral

Corral is on the board at +700, which seems like way too big of a price. There’s a chance a QB-needy team will be on the clock at the end of the regular season, and as the year’s premier quarterback prospect, Corral will be put under a microscope. If Detroit or Houston continue stumbling down the stretch, that price may seem like an overlay.