NFL draft: Travon Walker new betting favorite to be No. 1 pick

Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, ...

Travon Walker wasn’t even listed when Station Casinos posted odds in January on who would be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

The Georgia edge rusher was part of the field, which opened at 40-1. Three days before the draft, Walker has emerged as the odds-on favorite at sportsbooks to be the top overall pick.

BetMGM took sharp action on Walker on Sunday night to go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, moving him from +140 to +110. Walker supplanted Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson as the favorite at 4 a.m. Monday, moving from +110 to -160 before settling at -175.

Hutchinson, who had been the clear favorite since March, is the +160 second choice at Caesars Sportsbook behind Walker (-180).

“That’s what makes the draft so hard to book,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said. “It’s not like a game where you’ve got past results. It’s all speculation and information.

“There’s so much sharp action. You really have to stay on top of it. We’ve got a team in New Jersey that scours Twitter and what not. Everything can change from day to day.”

And minute to minute.

“We also did take in the last 15 minutes a sharp bet on Evan Neal at 16-1 to be the No. 1 overall pick,” Stoneback said Monday morning.

Neal, an offensive tackle from Alabama, dropped to the 12-1 fourth choice at BetMGM. North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu is the 10-1 third pick to go No. 1.

Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke has compared Walker to former All-Pro defensive end Aldon Smith, whom he selected with the San Francisco 49ers with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft over J.J. Watt and Ryan Kerrigan.

“Walker definitely has picked up a tremendous amount of steam over the last 48 hours,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said Monday. “We definitely have a little liability on Walker. But with the pro football draft, you never know for sure until the pick is in.

“I’m still seeing a lot of mocks that lean toward Hutchinson. That’s who I’m leaning toward.”

No. 2

Hutchinson is now the -130 favorite at BetMGM to be the second overall draft pick by the Detroit Lions. He supplanted Kayvon Thibodeaux as the favorite to go No. 2 after the book took sharp action last week on the Oregon defensive end to be the second pick. Thibodeaux is now the 2-1 second favorite to go No. 2, and Walker is 4-1.

No. 3

Ekwonu is the +250 favorite at BetMGM to be the third overall pick by the Houston Texans. Walker and Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner are tied for the 3-1 second choice. Neal is +350. Louisiana State cornerback Derek Stingley is 5-1, and Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are each 8-1.

No. 4

At Caesars, Thibodeaux is the +140 favorite to be the fourth overall pick by the New York Jets. Gardner is the 3-1 second choice, followed by Walker (+450) and Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson (5-1). Neal and Ekwonu are each 8-1.

Gardner is a heavy -700 favorite at Caesars to be the first cornerback selected. Stingley is the +340 second choice, followed by Washington’s Trent McDuffie at 15-1.

Ekwonu is the clear -190 favorite at Caesars to be the first offensive lineman drafted. Neal is the +110 second choice, followed by Mississippi State’s Charles Cross at 5-1.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.