The NFL draft begins with round one on Thursday night in Kansas City. As is always the case for one of the biggest events of the offseason, there has been a ton of speculation on how it will all pan out. Most notably, the race for the first overall pick has taken several twists and turns.
The Carolina Panthers will be on the clock first following a trade with the Chicago Bears. All signs are pointing to the club snagging a quarterback, but we won’t know for certain until the team steps to the podium on Thursday night. Let’s take a look at the top candidates.
Favorites to go first overall at the 2023 NFL draft
Betting odds on the first overall pick have been available at legal online sportsbooks for several months. The two top favorites have been holding steady, but the lead has changed hands a few times. There has also been movement in the rankings behind them. Here’s a look at the current favorites to be the first overall pick along with their latest odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: (-20000)
Young entered last season as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and was favored to make it two in a row. His production dipped as he missed some time to injury, while the Crimson Tide had a slightly down year of 10-2 and missed out on the College Football Playoff. Nonetheless, Young has shown more than enough during his college career to cement himself as the favorite to go first overall.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky: (+3000)
Levis has been the subject of much debate, but he has been entrenched in the fourth spot on the draft betting odds board for some time. He’s recently shot up to the second-favorite overall and at quarterback as of Tuesday. The 6-foot-3, 232-pound senior from the Wildcats didn’t light up the stat sheet during his college career, but his size and potential for development have made him a hot prospect. He’s clearly a candidate to go in the top 10.
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State: (+4000)
Stroud had a prolific junior year while leading the high-powered Buckeye offense, throwing for 3,688 yards and 41 TDs. Ohio State fell in the CFP semifinals to Georgia, the eventual national champion. After the Panthers acquired the top choice from the Bears, Stroud spent some time as the betting favorite to go first overall, but he’s now second on the board.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida: (+10000)
Richardson steadily climbed the charts as his solid season as QB1 for the Gators played out. He soared even further following an impressive performance at the NFL Combine, highlighted by a time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash and a vertical jump of 40.5 inches. Richardson is well behind the two favorites in odds, but he appears to have a good chance of hearing his name called early on night one.
Will Anderson, LB, Alabama: (+10000)
The first defender on the board is a two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for the top college defensive player. Anderson racked up several accolades while serving as a leader of the tough Crimson Tide defense. The three-year starter tallied 34.5 sacks during his time in Alabama and was one of the standouts at the combine.
Ultimately, there’s a number of players after the first four quarterbacks with similar odds. The market shows that it’s very favorable for the Carolina Panthers to be selecting one of those QBs, and the consensus pick is Bryce Young.
First round order for the 2023 NFL draft
The Bears clinched the top pick in the 2023 NFL draft following a disastrous 3-14 regular season. In March, the team flipped the pick to the Panthers in exchange for a package of four draft picks — including two first-rounders — and receiver D.J. Moore.
Trades before and during the draft are common, so it’s possible that the order of selection could wind up changing as round one plays out. Here’s the current order for the top 10 selections at this year’s draft.
- 1 – Carolina Panthers (acquired from the Bears)
- 2 – Houston Texans
- 3 – Arizona Cardinals
- 4 – Indianapolis Colts
- 5 – Seattle Seahawks (acquired from the Broncos)
- 6 – Detroit Lions (acquired from the Rams)
- 7 – Las Vegas Raiders
- 8 – Atlanta Falcons
- 9 – Chicago Bears (acquired from the Panthers)
- 10 – Philadelphia Eagles (acquired from the Saints)
No. 1 NFL draft pick history
At last year’s NFL draft, the Jaguars selected Travon Walker, a defensive end out of Georgia, with the first overall pick. The selection broke a streak of four straight years in which a QB was the top choice. Over the past decade, a quarterback has gone first overall six times. On an all-time basis, QBs are also in the lead for being the top choice. Here’s the breakdown by position:
|Position||Total First Overall||Most Recent First Pick|
As for the individual college programs, several lead the way and have produced a number of first overall picks. Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC have the most, with five apiece, followed by Auburn and Stanford with four.
Have the Panthers ever had the first overall pick?
Yes, the Panthers have had the top choice at the NFL draft one other time. In 2011, the club selected Cam Newton, fresh off a Heisman Trophy campaign while leading Auburn to the national championship, with the first overall selection.
Newton played nine seasons with the Panthers, leading the team to the postseason four times and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. He was the NFL MVP in 2015 and holds a number of franchise records, including passing yards and touchdowns.
Other ways to bet on the 2023 NFL draft
Beyond letting you bet on which player will be the first overall pick, sportsbooks may also offer several other NFL draft bets:
- Players to be selected with picks two through 10
- Draft positions for specific players
- Over/under on total players drafted by position in round one
- Players to be selected in top five, top 10, etc.
- Which player will be selected earliest from a pair or group
- Total players drafted by conference or school
- First player drafted by position
- Position drafted by team with its first pick
- Team that will select a specific player
- Position of last player selected, also known as “Mr. Irrelevant”
Using the No. 2 overall pick as an example, there are betting odds available for all of the top candidates. Here are the latest odds for the top five favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook: