NFL Draft 2023 Position Props: Best Bets On Who Will Be the First Player Selected at Each Key Position

The first day of the NFL Draft is here, along with a litany of various player position prop wagers. We've dissected the major position groups to determine where the value is in who will be selected first.

Apr 27, 2023 • 10:18 ET • 4 min read

While traditional NFL Draft props such as who will be the first overall pick will always be popular, they may not provide as much value as some other markets, including who will be the first player selected from a specific position group.

The big-name position groups like quarterback and wide receiver will always have plenty of eyes on them, but this year some of the most interesting position groups heading into the 2023 NFL Draft look like offensive line, tight end, and linebacker.

I break down the 2023 NFL Draft odds and give my insights on who could be the first player selected from all the major position groups, and where the value could lie.

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NFL Draft 2023 odds for first player picked per position

Second quarterback taken

Player Odds
Will Levis -110
CJ Stroud -110
Anthony Richardson +500
Bryce Young +1,200
Hendon Hooker +8,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

OK. So, I lied. Because Alabama’s Bryce Young is such an overwhelming -1,600 favorite to be the first overall pick in Thursday’s first round, there isn’t much intrigue in the first overall QB market. Instead, we turn our attention to the second quarterback selected market.

For a long time, it looked like CJ Stroud was a slam dunk to be the second quarterback selected (and even the first for a little while) after he tested well at the NFL Combine and his pro day. Oh, and those ridiculous numbers he put up at Ohio State, including when he carved up an all-time great Georgia defense in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

However, rumors have swirled about his bombing the S2 test and being a tough player to coach. So, of course, Stroud’s draft stock took a hit. And he is now the co-favorite to be the second quarterback selected with Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Levis has gotten some late steam in the market. He has the type of arm that makes scouts salivate, and the Mannings apparently like him. But he has issues with accuracy and pocket presence. 

Then there is the wild card in all this — Anthony Richardson. The Florida quarterback has the highest upside of maybe anyone in the draft. He also has a cannon and is an incredible athlete, but is raw.  

NFL Draft betting is all about sifting through huge piles of information, much of which is disinformation. I would still lean toward Stroud as the second quarterback taken because he is the most polished and has the prettiest ball. But Richardson has some value at +500.

First running back taken

Player Odds
Bijan Robinson -10,000
Jahmyr Gibbs +1,000
Zach Charbonnet +7,000
Tyjae Spears +8,000
Tank Bigsby +8,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

Do you know what -10,000 is when it comes to implied probability? That is 99.01%. That means there is a better than 99% chance that Texas’ Bijan Robinson will be the first running back selected in this year’s NFL Draft. And for good reason.

Even in a strong running back class like this one, Robinson is still a class above the rest and one of the best running back prospects to enter the draft in years. He is a beast with burners who will be a three-down back in the NFL. I see a little LaDainian Tomlinson in him.

He dominated at Texas, rushing for 3,410 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 60 catches for 805 yards and another eight scores through the air. And he is coming off a year where he claimed the Doak Walker Award and consensus All-American honors after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns.

As I said, this is a deep running back class. Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet, Auburn’s Tank Bigsby (all-time great running back name by the way), and a handful of others should all be starting on Sundays in the not-so-distant future. That just reiterates how good Robinson is. There is no value in this market.

First wide receiver taken

Player Odds
Jaxson Smith-Njigba -275
Zay Flowers +300
Jordan Addison +650
Quentin Johnston +800
Jaylin Hyatt +3,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

Even though this isn’t being touted as a great wide receiver class, the market to see which wideout gets his name called first on Thursday has been interesting.

When the odds hit the board, it was TCU’s Quentin Johnston who was the favorite to be the first wide receiver selected. Johnston was riding high after his impressive performance in helping lead the Horned Frogs' run to the CFP National Championship Game.

But a deeper dive into his tape reveals inconsistent hands and some polish needed on his route running, and before you know it, he’s the fourth choice at +800.

The current favorite is Ohio State’s Jaxson Smith-Njigba. The former Buckeye is an interesting case. He was a monster in 2021, setting Ohio State records with 95 catches and 1,606 receiving yards while looking like the best receiver on a team that also featured NFLers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

Boston College’s Zay Flowers has been the big riser in the group, and is now the second favorite at +300. He’s an explosive playmaker and excellent route runner, but he is a little undersized.

I think Smith-Njigba is likely to hear his name called first among the WR group, but Johnston looks like the best value at +800 considering he is the only true prototype “x” wide receiver among the top players in this class.

First tight end taken

Player Odds
Michael Mayer -180
Daulton Kincaid +145
Darnell Washington +1,000
Luke Musgrave +3,500
Sam LaPorta +6,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

The 2023 draft will feature a solid group of tight ends. So solid that some believe that three could be selected in the first round, and the market has seen some fascinating action.

Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer has been the best tight end in college football for the last two seasons, hauling in 138 catches for 1,649 yards with 16 touchdowns. He has great body control with strong hands, and is strong enough to be a traditional in-line blocking tight end.

Not surprisingly, he began this process as the favorite to be the first tight end selected. But Utah’s Daulton Kincaid has (and still is) become a favorite among evaluators. He was very productive for the Utes with outstanding body control, and is a problem after the catch. He’s a mismatched tight end in today’s NFL in the mold of Zach Ertz.

Then there is another Georgia freak in Darnell Washington. He’s an intriguing prospect with an upside as massive as his frame. Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave and Iowa’s Sam LaPorta also have the potential to be NFL starters. 

Mayer looks like the top of the class, but a lot of mocks have Kincaid going before him. There’s value in Kincaid at plus money.

First offensive lineman taken

Player Odds
Paris Johnson Jr. -450
Peter Skoronski +400
Darnell Wright +600
Broderick Jones +1,000
Anton Harrison +5,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

The offensive line class is one of the most interesting of the entire draft. There was no consensus No. 1 tackle heading into the draft process, and each of the Top 4 guys have their pros and cons.

Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State has a big frame with smooth feet and has positional versatility, but his height causes him to play too upright at times. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski has been touted as the most pro-ready tackle in this class, but his arm length has some scouts wondering if he’ll need to kick inside at the next level. Georgia’s Broderick Jones is the most inexperienced of the group, but his ceiling as a tackle may be the highest. And Darnell Wright from Tennessee is solid, but he is a true right tackle.

Johnson has separated himself from the pack as draft day approaches, now sitting at -450 overall. Several mocks have him being selected at No. 3 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. That said, there isn’t a ton separating these four prospects, and every team could have a different one at the top of their boards. In that case, I would lean toward the value with Jones at +1,000.

First cornerback taken

Player Odds
Devon Witherspoon -270
Christian Gonzalez +180
Joey Porter Jr. +2,220
Deonte Banks +2,500
Emmanuel Forbes  +3,500

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

Cornerback might be one of the deepest classes in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a group filled with long and athletic players. But it appears that two have emerged as the top options to be the first cornerback selected. They are Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez looks like the most well-rounded corner in the class. He’s uber-athletic with fluid hips and great ball skills. Simply put, he’s a traditional lockdown corner. Gonzalez also has the edge over Witherspoon when it comes to size. 

But it’s the Illini’s defensive back who is the favorite to be the first cornerback to hear his name called. More specifically by the Detroit Lions at No. 6 overall. The Lions already had a need at corner before trading Jeff Okudah for a fifth-round pick. 

Witherspoon gets the edge here because he is the more physical of the Top 2 corners and fits better with the Dan Campbell "kneecap-biting" philosophy. 

I’d love to say there is value with a guy like Joey Porter Jr. or offseason star Deonte Banks, but too many needles are pointing in the direction of Witherspoon.

First linebacker taken

Player Odds
Drew Sanders -200
Jack Campbell +250
Trenton Simpson +300
Daiyan Henley +2,000
Demarvion Overshown +5,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 27, 2023.

Linebacker clearly isn’t a premium position anymore, but because this group is overlooked, maybe there is a little more value to be found.

Arkansas’ Drew Sanders might be the most versatile linebacker in the class. He did it all for the Razorbacks, totaling 103 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, a pick, five pass deflections, and three forced fumbles. He can play in the middle of the field or off the edge. 

Clemson’s Trenton Simpson is another versatile defender with excellent speed. The Tigers employed him in a ton of ways thanks to his athleticism. He can play in coverage, on the line, and everything in between. He’s also a great blitzer.

Then there’s Iowa’s Jack Campbell. The former Hawkeye is your traditional middle linebacker. He has great size and instincts. Plus, he hits like a truck.

Sanders has seen a lot of late steam, but who goes first depends on team needs at the end of the first round. I think there is some value in either Simpson or Campbell being the first linebacker selected.

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