The NFL draft is just over a week away. It's one of the best times of the year for football fans as speculation is rampant and football is all over the news cycle. Fans across the league get excited to add young talent to their rosters, convincing themselves that their team's draft picks were all a steal and that they will impact the league for years to come.
However, this year is a bit different. There's no can't-miss prospect at the top of the draft, and there's even uncertainty with the No. 1 pick. That uncertainty has even bled down to the quarterback prospects. We don't know which quarterback will go first, and we don't know where and when quarterbacks will go off the board. However, if you believe the betting odds, quarterbacks might not go as early as we're accustomed to.
Quarterbacks almost always go early
The last draft where a quarterback didn't go first overall was 2017 when the Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett. In the four drafts since then, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence were the first overall picks.
The last time a quarterback didn't go in the top 10 of the draft was in 2013, when the Buffalo Bills took EJ Manuel at 16. In the eight drafts since then, 19 quarterbacks have been drafted in the top 10 of their respective drafts.
This is not surprising. There is no position more important in sports than quarterback. There is also no bigger advantage in sports than an elite quarterback on a rookie contract. If a team can hit on a quarterback in the first round, it immediately opens a five-year window where they can build a team around their cheap quarterback and compete.
However, despite the history of quarterbacks going very early in drafts, oddsmakers aren't convinced that will be the case this year. Malik Willis is the favorite to be the first quarterback drafted, but his over/under is set at 10.5. Kenny Pickett has the second-best odds to be the first quarterback drafted, and his over/under is 12.5.
Top 10 teams might have quarterback needs
If you look at the top 10 of the NFL draft, there are plenty of teams where a quarterback makes some kind of sense. There has been some rumbling about the Lions at pick No. 2 being interested in a quarterback. That would be a bit surprising. However, the Carolina Panthers at No. 6 seem desperate for a quarterback. The Giants pick twice in the top 7, but they seem content to give Daniel Jones another year. Are the Falcons content with Marcus Mariota? What about Seattle and Drew Lock?
You could pencil a quarterback into any of these slots, and it wouldn't be surprising. However, are any of these quarterbacks good enough prospects to warrant that type of investment? I could just as easily see the Lions waiting until the 32nd pick to nab a quarterback, if they take one at all. The Panthers have been linked to Mayfield in recent days, with Ian Rapoport calling them the "most likely spot" for the former first overall pick. Maybe the Falcons and Seahawks are willing to give Mariota and Lock a chance and then reevaluate the position next offseason, when the quarterback prospects are projected to be much better.
History tells us that quarterbacks will go early, but oddsmakers aren't convinced that will be the case this year. If you think recent history will continue, betting Willis to go before pick 11 or Pickett to go before pick 13 seems like a good bet.
Players projected to go before quarterbacks
There's a whole list of players that oddsmakers are projecting to go before quarterbacks or in the same range as quarterbacks:
Aidan Hutchinson, over/under pick 1.5
Travon Walker, over/under pick 3.5
Ikem Okwonu, over/under pick 3.5
Evan Neal, over/under pick 4.5
Kayvon Thibodeaux, over/under pick 5.5
Ahmad Gardner, over/under pick 5.5
Charles Cross, over/under pick 7.5
Jermaine Johnson, over/under pick 9.5
Malik Willis, over/under pick 10.5
Kyle Hamilton, over/under pick 10.5
Garrett Wilson, over/under pick 10.5
Drake London, over/under pick 10.5
Derek Stingley, over/under pick 11.5
Kenny Pickett, over/under pick 12.5
Jameson Williams, over/under pick 13.5
Jordan Davis, over/under pick 14.5