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NFL Draft First Round Gives Drafted Players a Social Media Bump

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 14 mins

NFL Draft First Round Gives Drafted Players a Social Media Bump

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On Thursday night, 32 young men were made into professional football players, drafted in the first round of what was a wild 2022 NFL Draft on sports betting apps.

And with that, they’re no longer popular college kids, but businessmen with brands and reach. Thursday’s social media numbers displayed that. All 32 players drafted in the opening round of the 2022 NFL Draft saw a bump in both their Instagram and Twitter followers. 

On Twitter, that included two players who joined the site that day. LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., drafted third overall by the Houston Texans, went from zero followers to 9,800 in the span of a few hours. And Penn State WR Jahan Dotson, taken by the Commanders at No. 16, went from none to 5,800. Dotson also gained a sizeable 13,300 Instagram followers on Thursday night. 

But that’s nothing compared to the reach some players gained after the first round. The top 14 players selected in the first round gained at least 10,000 Instagram followers. One of them – QB Kenny Pickett –  gained over 50,000. 

Bookies.com compiled a before and after list of each of the 32 first-round picks. 


Drafted Player's Instagram Followers

Player Pre Draft Followers Post Draft Follower Difference
Kenny Pickett 73,500 132,000 58,500
Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner 224,000 260,000 36,000
Kayvon Thibodeaux 100,000 133,000 33,000
Aidan Hutchinson 104,000 126,000 22,000
Jameson Williams 152,000 172,000 20,000
Kyle Hamilton 50,000 69,900 19,900
Drake London 53,300 72,500 19,200
Chris Olave 184,000 203,000 19,000
Jordan Davis 133,000 152,000 19,000
Evan Neal 29,200 47,600 18,400
Garrett Wilson 137,000 154,000 17,000
Trent McDuffie 9,000 24,100 15,100
Tyler Smith 1,100 14,600 13,500
Jahan Dotson 51,900 65,200 13,300
Travon Walker 26,800 40,000 13,200
Jermaine Johnson 30,300 42,900 12,600
Ikem "Ickey" Ekwonu 12,800 24,500 11,700
Charles Cross 6,800 18,500 11,700
Derek Stingley Jr. 160,000 170,000 10,000
Quay Walker 14,200 23,700 9,500
Kaiir Elam 28,900 38,400 9,500
Treylon Burks 38,900 47,200 8,300
George Karlaftis 10,300 18,200 7,900
Devonte Wyatt 12,400 19,400 7,000
Lewis Cine 17,300 23,200 5,900
Devin Lloyd 15,000 19,900 4,900
Cole Strange 5,600 10,300 4,700
Zion Johnson 3,400 8,000 4,600
Tyler Linderbaum 10,200 14,700 4,500
Trevor Penning 11,600 15,300 3,700
Kenyon Green 4,900 7,600 2,700
Daxton Hill 24,100 26,700 2,600

1. Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers: +50,000

Quarterbacks are often the center of attention in NFL betting, so it makes sense that the top gainer from the first round was the lone QB selected. What makes his story extra special is that he played college ball at the University of Pittsburgh, which plays their home games at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. 

2. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Jets: +36,000

“Sauce” Gardner was considered by many experts to be the top cornerback in the draft. When the Texans took Stingley, that made the pick by the New York Jets at No. 4 a little sweeter. Jets fans – and there are a lot of them in the nation’s biggest metro area – embraced him quickly. Gardner was already a known commodity on Instagram. He had the most followers prior to the draft of anyone selected and now tips the scales are over 260,000. He's not afraid of bringing attention to himself, evidenced by his chain on draft night.

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3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Giants: +33,000

According to NFL odds, Thibodeaux wasn’t expected to be available when New York selected at No. 5 overall. But with cornerbacks going at Nos. 3 and 4, then opened the door for the Giants to take what many believed to be a top-two level pick and a premier pass rusher. Giants fans latched on quickly. 

4. Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Lions: +22,000

Hutchinson was already known in Detroit circles; he played high school ball in suburban Detroit before embarking on an All-American career at Michigan. But locals really latched on when the Lions were able to secure him at No. 2 overall. 

5. Jameson Williams, WR, Lions: +20,000

Detroit had itself a day at the NFL Draft’s first round, and fans got swept up in the excitement. Less than an hour after getting Hutchinson, the Lions were able to nab Alabama’s Williams, who may end up being the top wideout once he returns from an injury that may keep him off the field at the start of the 2022 season.


Drafted Player's Twitter Followers

Player Pre Draft Followers Post Draft Follower Difference
Jordan Davis 25,200 48,500 23,300
Kenny Pickett 26,500 47,300 20,800
Sauce Gardner 27,800 43,800 16,000
Trent McDuffie 3,800 17,600 13,800
Chris Olave 69,200 82,500 13,300
Kayvon Thibodeaux 37,700 50,700 13,000
Kaiir Elam 11,700 23,200 11,500
Derek Stingley Jr. 0 9,800 9,800
Kyle Hamilton 16,600 25,100 8,500
George Karlaftis 8,400 16,800 8,400
Garrett Wilson 51,300 59,300 8,000
Charles Cross 3,900 11,700 7,800
Tyler Smith 500 7,900 7,400
Jameson Williams 14,000 21,000 7,000
Aidan Hutchinson 39,700 46,000 6,300
Jermaine Johnson 23,800 30,000 6,200
Quay Walker 15,600 21,700 6,100
Travon Walker 6,400 12,400 6,000
Ickey Ekwonu 3,400 9,200 5,800
Jahan Dotson 0 5,800 5,800
Evan Neal 17,000 38,400 5,700
Lewis Cine 12,800 18,000 5,200
Drake London 8,900 13,500 4,600
Treylon Burks 19,100 23,400 4,300
Zion Johnson 1,200 5,000 3,800
Devonte Wyatt 4,600 8,000 3,400
Daxton Hill 14,400 17,400 3,000
Trevor Penning 2,000 4,200 2,200
Cole Strange 1,300 2,800 1,500
Devin Lloyd 5,000 6,200 1,200
Kenyon Green 7,000 7,900 900
Daxton Hill 7,500 8,400 900

1. Jordan Davis, DL, Eagles: +23,300

The mammoth 6-foot-6, 341-pound Davis was taken at No. 13 by the Eagles, and Philly fans were glad to see it. Davis spent most of Thursday night retweeting love for his former teammates also drafted, but that didn’t stop by Twitter following to double in size. 

2. Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers: +20,800

Again, being a QB helped. So, too, did the great story of being drafted by the town you played college ball for. How he reacted after being taken by the Steelers only made it more memorable. 

3. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Jets: +16,000

Gardner gained over 50,000 combined followers on the two social sites and made his love of the next step in his career known in all caps. 

4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Giants: +13,000

Thibodeaux wasn’t overly active on Twitter for draft night, just two retweets and a note to a friend. That didn’t stop zealous Giants fans to get on board with their newest pass-rusher. 

5. Trent McDuffie, CB, Chiefs: +13,800

The Chiefs traded up to land McDuffie, who famously allowed just 16 receptions for 111 yards and zero TDs in all of 2021 for the Washington Huskies. Chiefs Kingdom responded in kind. McDuffie’s Twitter following was at 3,800 on draft day and is approaching 20,000 just 24 hours later. 

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.