Once we get through the NFL Combine, everyone’s attention turns toward the NFL draft. Everything in between the Combine and the draft itself serves as an appetizer to the main course. With it being held in Kansas City this year, please don’t forget BBQ main courses must be paired with three sides, minimum.
We will have pro days, player visits, and free agent signings that will shake everything up. As it stands now, however, we can begin to examine which draft prospects are most likely to go No. 1 overall. Looking at the NFL draft betting odds for the first overall selection, it’s expectedly quarterback-heavy, with a class that is much, much better than last year’s.
Who Will Be the First Player Drafted in 2023?
Below we will examine the favorites to be in position to be the No. 1 pick, and see who, in my opinion, is the best value for that selection based on the odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
Bryce Young (-150)
The quarterback from Alabama right now continues to be the betting favorite to be the first overall selection according to the NFL draft odds. Bryce Young did not throw at the NFL Combine, but he did come in at least 10 pounds heavier than his listed playing weight.
It remains to be seen whether or not Young can actually perform at that weight and if he’ll maintain that weight for his pro day workout.
Scouts generally see Young as having much of the pro-level skills needed to succeed at the next level. The main questions surrounding Young are his height and weight. I don’t think those were necessarily answered at the Combine. It’s not just a size question, but what can you do at that size if you’ve never played at it?
On the frame Young possesses, can he add 10-15 pounds of muscle and still perform the way we see on tape? That’s the question scouts will be asking themselves as they move on from the Combine and to the pro day circuit. Still, for now, he’s the favorite.
Anthony Richardson (+400)
Anthony Richardson is an intriguing name. He’s the fastest riser up the NFL draft odds list. Dripping with the physical tools NFL teams covet, combined with jaw-dropping highlight plays while at Florida, this is a guy who can very quickly rise up draft boards.
The pre-draft events are literally made for a player like Richardson to shine, and shine he did. Richardson broke the vertical jump record for quarterbacks and had the best broad jump of a QB since 2003. That lower body power has to have coaches salivating about his potential in the run game. Added to that? He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash time.
All it takes is one team to fall in love with Richardson’s physical gifts and have the belief they can develop the polished skills he may lack at the moment. I still think it’s a long shot Richardson goes first overall, but stranger things have happened at the NFL draft. Might want to jump on now, before his odds continue losing value.
C.J. Stroud (+450)
If you believe the Chicago Bears will trade the No. 1 overall pick, this is where I think the best value is for bettors based on the draft betting odds. C.J. Stroud is the other signal-caller being discussed heavily in the first-overall pick discussion. So much so that his NFL draft odds of +450 looks like a steal compared to Young’s -150 and Richardson’s +400.
Yes, Richardson is listed as the second favorite, but I have yet to hear people in the league float his name out there as a legit No. 1 pick consideration. The Ohio State QB, on the other hand, checks the boxes that scouts have questions about for both Young and Richardson.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, Stroud has the body type scouts love for their quarterbacks. Additionally, as he showed during the NFL Combine throwing drills, he’s a more polished passer than Richardson. I would argue, based on the tape I’ve seen, Stroud is the best passer in the draft.
Yet, what scouts are wondering is does Stroud have the skill set Young possesses as both a passer and runner. Oftentimes, when it comes to player selection, we see NFL teams talk themselves into believing they can develop the skills if the physical attributes are ideal.
If Stroud’s skill set is close enough to Young’s in the eyes of scouts — and already has the ideal body type — it’s very realistic he’s the first name we hear called on draft night. I think +450 is a steal for Stroud.
Will Anderson Jr. (+1200)
Here’s where we see the first non-quarterback. Additionally, if you believe that the Bears do not trade the first overall pick, this has the best value of any prospect based on the NFL draft odds.
Anderson is the best pass rusher in the draft by a long shot. One may argue he had a down year this past year, and yet still won his second consecutive Bednarik Award as the best defender in the nation. PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings describes him this way:
“He’s a ruthless competitor in pursuit, with rare explosiveness, lateral agility, and size-relative strength in contact situations.”
Playing one of the premier positions in the NFL, if you don’t need a quarterback and are positioned well enough in the NFL draft order, taking Anderson is a no-brainer. I seem to recall the current holder of the first overall pick fitting that exact description.