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NFL draft odds: Ikem Ekwonu passes Evan Neal as favorite to be first offensive lineman drafted

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NFL front office executives know the most-important player on any roster is the starting quarterback. To protect that vital asset, oddsmakers are predicting teams will invest in offensive lineman more than any other offensive position in this year’s draft.

In February, Alabama’s Evan Neal was the betting favorite to be the first offensive lineman to be selected in this year’s draft. However, over the last several weeks those odds have flipped with NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu now sitting in the top overall perch.

Let’s take a deeper look at the offensive lineman market.

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Offensive Lineman Betting OddsFive offensive lineman came off the board in the first round of the 2021 draft. Penei Sewell was the first offensive lineman chosen by the Lions at No. 7. Following Sewell were Rashawn Slater to the Chargers (13), Alijah Vera-Tucker to the Jets (14), Alex Leatherwood to the Raiders (17) and Christian Darrisaw to the Vikings (No. 23).

In this year’s draft, the oddsmakers at SI Sportsbook have set the over/under betting projection at 7.5 offensive lineman to hear their name called in the first round with the ‘under’ moderately juiced at odds of -141. You  will need to risk $141 dollars to win $100 if you believe less than 7.5 lineman will be selected in the first round.

Four offensive lineman are strongly rumored to be drafted in the first round of the 2022 draft: Ekwonu, Neal, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning. The wildcards are Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, Boston College’s Zion Johnson, Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum and Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann.

Currently, we see two clear front runners in Ekwonu (-141) and Neal (+115) to come off the board first in the offensive lineman betting market at SI Sportsbook.

FIRST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN SELECTED IN 2022 NFL DRAFTIkem Ekwonu, OT, NC State (-141)

Over the last several months, Ekwonu has seen his overall betting projection drop as word has spread that the powerful former NC State standout has the ability to play on the interior at guard or on the outside at tackle at the next level. 

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In early February, oddsmakers listed Ekwonu’s overall draft position at 5.5 but have since adjusted that projection to 3.5 as strong speculation has the explosive talent coming off the board first (-141) among all offensive lineman.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (+115)

Alabama offensive lineman have been drafted in the first round of the last three NFL Drafts (Leatherwood, 2021; Jedrick Wills, 2020; Jonah Williams, 2019) and that streak will extend to four later this month. 

Neal, who was in the discussion for the first-overall pick several months ago, should still hear his name called in the top five picks. 

The 6’7”, 360 pound Neal is a massive lineman who will likely be an integral part of an NFL line for the next decade. Oddsmakers listed Neal’s overall draft position at 2.5 when markets were first released, but due to Ekwonu’s rise the former Crimson Tide star now stands at 4.5 juiced to the over at odds of -125.

Neal is being strongly linked to the Giants at pick No. 5.

Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting’s Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.

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Source : Sports Illustrated

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