The oddsmakers like Liberty quarterback Malik Willis to be the first quarterback selected in this week’s NFL draft.
The margin between Willis and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett is close, but Willis is the narrow favorite at multiple sportsbooks as of Tuesday, two days before the first round is held in Las Vegas.
Willis was the -190 favorite at DraftKings, with Pickett also owning reasonably short odds at +170. At BetMGM, Willis opened at -155 and Pickett was next at +130.
Then there is a considerable gap between them and the third option, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. Ridder stood at +800 at BetMGM and +1000 at DraftKings. Matt Corral of Ole Miss was fourth (+1600 at BetMGM, +1800 at DraftKings).
Willis led the Flames in both passing and rushing in 2021, putting up 2,857 passing yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 878 yards and 13 more scores. He guided the Flames to an 8-5 record and a 56-20 victory in the LendingTree Bowl over Eastern Michigan.
Pickett burst onto the national scene in his senior season, leading Pitt to its first ACC championship and being named a Heisman Trophy finalist. He ranked fifth in the nation in passing yards (4,319) and third in passing touchdowns (42).
The top five teams in the draft order — the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New York Jets and New York Giants — are not expected to take a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers, at No. 6 overall, are the first team that may be interested in a quarterback.
The Atlanta Falcons (eighth overall) and Seattle Seahawks (ninth) are also in the market for a quarterback after trading away Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson, respectively.
–Field Level Media