2023 NFL Draft Odds: The 5 Best Picks for Round 1

Covers Senior Betting Analyst Andrew Caley shares his five best bets for Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City.

Apr 26, 2023 • 10:09 ET • 1 min read

Betting on the NFL Draft is a practice of sorting through information (and misinformation) and then making educated guesses by identifying team needs. But if you are able to do that, there is some value to be found in these betting markets. 

This year’s draft is one of the most interesting in recent years. While it feels like Bryce Young is a lock to go the Panthers at No. 1, after that, there is a lot up in the air, starting with the Texans with the second pick.

Who will be the first defensive player off the board? How far will Jalen Carter fall? How many wide receivers will be selected in the first round? I answer all these questions and more when I break down the NFL Draft odds and bring you my best bets for Thursday’s big night.

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1. Will Anderson 1st defensive player selected (+125 at DraftKings)

Sometimes people overthink things when it comes to the NFL Draft, and I believe that’s what’s happening with Will Anderson. 

The former Alabama edge rusher is a blue-chip prospect and possesses the perfect combination of size, speed, and strength. His production was outstanding at Alabama, recording 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for loss, good enough to land him back-to-back Bronko Nagurski trophies as the nation's top defensive player. Simply put, Anderson is arguably the most talented overall player in this draft.

And yet, somehow, he is no longer the favorite to be the first defensive player in the draft. That honor now belongs to Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson. Wilson had a breakout year for the Red Raiders, notching seven sacks and 14 tackles for a loss last season. He’s a great talent with impressive measurables, but is he as impressive an athlete as Anderson?

That I’m not so sure about. Once again, I believe we're overthinking this. Anderson is the best defensive player in this class, and now that we are getting plus money for the Crimson Tide’s elite edge rusher to be the first defensive player selected, I can’t say no.

2. Over 3.5 WR selected in the 1st Round (-114 at FanDuel)

The wide receiver positions total has been another interesting market heading into Thursday’s draft. While this isn’t the strongest wide receiver class, the Over/Under for wideouts taken in the first round still opened at 4.5.

The initial thinking was that Ohio State’s Jaxson Smith-Njigba, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, USC’s Jordan Addison, and Boston College’s Zay Flowers were the only obvious choices to land in the first round of the draft. Then rumors started to swirl that Johnston was falling down draft boards to the point where the number was dropped to 3.5. I believe the new number is low enough to jump on the Over.

As I said, I think JSN, Addison, and Flowers, who have been rising up boards leading up to the draft, are all locks to go in the first round. Early on, there are a handful of teams who could look at wide receiver — including the Titans, Texans, Packers, and Patriots.

However, it’s actually the back part of the draft where I could really start seeing the pass catchers getting selected. From pick 20 onward I count no fewer than seven teams who could use a wide receiver. 

So, I think there is a solid chance Johnston — who is arguably the only prototype x wideout in this class — will sneak back into the first round. There are also a handful of guys like Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt and UNC’s Josh Downs that any number of teams at the back end of the first round could like. That means I like at least four wideouts to hear their names called Thursday night.

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3. Jalen Carter draft position Over 6.5 (+155 at DraftKings)

What happens to Georgia’s Jalen Carter will be one of the most interesting storylines on Thursday night. The Bulldogs' defensive tackle will be on top of many team's draft boards in terms of talent alone. 

Carter has a rare combination of size, strength, and speed that allows him to pressure opposing QBs from the inside with relative ease. That combination alone had some wondering if the Chicago Bears would select him first overall if they held onto the pick. 

But his legal issues and poor offseason testing have put a red flag next to Carter’s name and tanked his value. As a result, Carter’s draft position Over/Under is set at 6.5. The Over was juiced in the -200 range, but steam has come in on the Under and now the Over sits at +155, a price too good to pass up.

I like the Over here because I really only see one landing spot for Carter in the Top 6, and that’s the Seattle Seahawks at No. 5. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks organization likely think they have the type of culture that would be beneficial to Carter, but NFL Insider and draft expert Daniel Jeremiah recently said he’s hearing Carter won’t be the pick for Seattle at five.

Many mock drafts also have the Detroit Lions selecting Carter at No. 6. However, GM Brad Holmes has stated in the past that intangibles are a big part of who they draft, meaning Carter probably doesn’t meet that requirement. 

At plus money, I like the odds Carter falls past No. 6 and maybe into the laps of a team like the Bears at nine or the Philadelphia Eagles at 10.

4. Broderick Jones 1st offensive lineman drafted (+1,000 at bet365)

Offensive line looks like another intriguing position group heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s because there is no clear-cut top tackle in this class and potentially four guys who could be the first offensive lineman selected.

The candidates are Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., Northwestern’s Pete Skoronski, Georgia’s Broderick Jones, and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright. What’s interesting is all four look to be starting-caliber tackles, but they have trouble separating from each other because they all have at least a minor flaw.

Johnson, the current favorite to be the first tackle selected, has a massive frame but his height means it can be hard for him to make solid contact with defenders at times. Skoronski is seen by many as the most pro-ready player but doesn’t have ideal length meaning some scouts think he’ll have to kick inside. Wright is a bruiser but lacks elite quickness and saw his best success at right tackle.

That brings me to Jones. The Bulldogs’ tackle is arguably the rawest of the quartet making just 19 starts in college, but his upside may be the highest. He’s uber athletic and strong while his techniques are coming along. But more importantly, he’s got the longest odds of the foursome. With not much separating this group, why not take a shot at the guy with the 10/1 odds?

5. Joey Porter Jr. draft position Under 19.5 (+140 at DraftKings)

In today’s NFL of all-out passing attacks, you can never have too many cornerbacks, and this year’s draft welcomes another strong group of defensive backs into the fold. 

It appears that there could be two corners taken in the Top 10 — Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez. The next cornerback on my board is Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State. 

The son of the former Pittsburgh Steelers great is long, physical, and an excellent tackler. Pretty much what you would expect from Porter’s son. He also broke up 11 passes and limited opponents to 3.7 yards per attempt when thrown in his direction last season. Basically, Porter has the makeup of a lockdown corner.

The O/U on his draft position is set at 19.5 with the Under at plus money. Personally, I have him below that number in all of my mock drafts and there are several teams in the 10-19 range that could use help in their secondary — including the New England Patriots, Washington Commanders, and Steelers (wouldn’t that be fun).

Cornerback is now a premium position in the NFL and Porter is one of the best in the class. With a handful of potential landing spots and plus money to boot, I love the value for Porter to land Under his draft position on Thursday night.

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