Next Thursday, 32 dreams will be realized when the NFL draft gets underway in Las Vegas. We've combed through tape, scouting reports and mock drafts. We watched a lot of these players in college. If you feel like you can figure out what NFL general managers are thinking, the draft props at BetMGM are a fun way to add some spice to the draft.
Over the past few weeks, one particular player's odds have been shifting rapidly. Jameson Williams of Alabama might not be the first name you think of, but bettors love him to go relatively early as we head into the 2022 draft.
Williams is shooting up the betting leaderboard
Jameson Williams had a tremendous season for Alabama in 2021, as he was tasked with replacing the production of former Crimson Tide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs from the past two seasons. He caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns over 15 games and was Alabama's leading receiver.
Williams has good size at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and while he didn't run at the combine, it's projected he would have run his 40-yard dash in around 4.3 seconds, making him one of the fastest receivers in this year's draft. We saw the production he was capable of this past year. Alabama also has a history of putting top-end receivers in the league, whether it's the aforementioned quartet of youngsters, or older receivers like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley.
However, there are two main question marks surrounding Williams.
The reason Williams didn't run at the combine was because he's recovering from ACL surgery, an injury he sustained in Alabama's loss to Georgia in the national championship game. While there's a long history of players returning successfully from ACL injuries, it certainly didn't help Williams in comparison to his peers.
The other question with Williams is why he couldn't get on the field at Ohio State. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are two other receivers projected to go early in this draft, and Williams couldn't beat them out to get on the field in Columbus. For some, it's hard to put Williams ahead of those receivers when they were all in the same locker room and two of them put on a show on the field while the other was stapled to the bench. Sometimes a change of scenery is needed to unlock potential, and there's a very good chance that was the case with Williams. He only has one year of college production, which might scare some teams.
Despite these question marks, Williams is shooting up the betting odds leaderboards as we approach the draft.
Just a little over a week ago, Williams was +500 to be the first receiver selected in this year's draft at BetMGM. He was well behind Wilson and Drake London of USC in terms of the betting odds. However, with the draft now just a week away, Williams is now just +160 to be the first receiver taken. He's passed London in the odds (+210) and is quickly approaching Wilson, who is the betting favorite at +115.
Williams' current pick projection at BetMGM is over/under pick 13.5. As of Thursday morning, 99% of the betting handle was on Williams to go under pick 13.5. While that may be confusing and take a while to process, the under in this situation is a good thing for Williams as it means bettors are betting on him to go before pick 14.
The rest of the receivers
As mentioned above, Garrett Wilson of Ohio State is the betting favorite to be the first receiver taken in the draft with +115 odds. Bettors are projecting Wilson to go in the top ten, as 93% of bets and 97% of the money is backing Wilson to go under pick 10.5. The Jets and Falcons are two teams currently in the top-10 who have glaring needs at wide receiver.
Jameson Williams has the second best odds, and right behind him is London. However, bettors are not as bullish on London hearing his name called early. At BetMGM, 88% of bets and and 99% of the money is backing London to go over pick 10.5 on Thursday night.
Treylon Burks of Arkansas is 14-to-1 to be the first receiver taken. Bettors are extremely split on when Burks will come off the board, as there's a dead even 50/50 split of action on whether Burks will go before or after pick 23.5. Philadelphia, New Orleans, New England, Green Bay and Arizona all pick in the top 23. Dallas, Kansas City (two picks), and Green Bay (their second first round pick) all pick in the first round after pick 23.
Chris Olave, the former teammate of both Williams and Wilson, is 16-to-1 to be the first receiver off the board. As of Thursday morning, 97% of the bets were on Olave to go before pick 18.