January 20, 2022

Why Did NC State's Ikem Ekwonu's Odds To Be 2022 NFL Draft's No. 1 Pick Drastically Change?

The Jacksonville Jaguars made the no-brainer decision to draft Clemson's Trevor Lawrence with the top selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

This season, the worst team in the league has a much tougher choice. 

Without a consensus top pick, the race for the No. 1 spot could get interesting, especially in the betting market. 

Take North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu, for example. The athletic offensive lineman's odds to be selected by the Jaguars at No. 1 had a drastic change overnight Wednesday.  

Ekwonu, who was listed on DraftKings Sportsbook at +10000 to be the No. 1 pick on Jan. 18, jumped all the way to +500 in a 24-hour timespan, which gives the Wolfpack lineman the fourth-best odds to be the No. 1 pick. He still trails Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson (+135), Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Alabama's Evan Neal (+275). 

So what changed? 

In our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we have Ekwonu being selected sixth overall by the Carolina Panthers, so we know it wasn't us. 

Could the oddsmakers be hearing rumors from sneaky NFL executives as the offseason has started for some and focus has shifted toward the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, and ultimately, the draft? 

Or was it something else? 

The Athletic's Dane Brugler released his latest mock draft which had Ekwonu going to the Jaguars with the No. 1 pick, while a Reddit post to r/sportsbook urged people to hop on the +10000 odds. 

So, Is Ekwonu Worth A Future?

Ekwonu is certainly in the running for the No. 1 pick. That alone makes his fourth-best odds juicy. 

He, along with fellow offensive tackle Evan Neal, are battling it out with two high-end pass rushers — Thibodeaux and Hutchinson — for the top pick.  

There's a strong argument for the Jags to go offensive line over a pass rusher in a non-star-studded draft class. 

The Jaguars have their quarterback of the future and now they must build around him. Lawrence's rookie campaign was a disaster thanks to poor skill players and a sieve of an offensive line.

With nearly $60 million in cap space heading into the offseason, the Jags can upgrade their pass-catchers in free agency and use the No. 1 selection to protect their prized possession. 

But passing on pass rushers like Hutchinson and Thibodeaux, the two respective favorites to go No. 1, will be tough. 

Whether you want to believe this is the public overreacting or there's legitimate inside info that has moved the line, Ekwonu is certainly worthy of a future at +500 as the draft process heats up this offseason. 

Photo: Getty Images