The 2023 NFL draft is nine months away, but oddsmakers have already released early odds on which top college football prospect will be selected No. 1.
This past April, we alerted readers 12 days prior to the draft that respected Vegas money was convinced Travon Walker (+300 odds) would go No. 1 to Jacksonville despite Aidan Hutchinson being the overwhelming favorite at -333 odds.
The double-pop investment of Walker going No. 1 combined with Hutchinson going over his draft betting position projection of 1.5 (+175 odds) paid off handsomely for bettors who follow the respected money wagers shared here only at YES Betting.
Unlike last year’s No. 1 pick futures market, where no quarterback was among the top 15 betting choices, bettors find two signal-callers clearly ahead of the rest of the field projected for 2023. Not surprisingly, both Ohio State‘s CJ Stroud and Alabama‘s Bryce Young are also the top two betting choices in this year’s Heisman futures.
This market has been dominated by quarterbacks as since 2000 with 16 being drafted first. In the seven drafts where a team passed on a signal-caller at No. 1, they selected either a dominant defensive lineman (four) or offensive lineman (three).
It has been 26 years since a skill position player was drafted first when the jets drafted Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. The last running back to come off the board first came in 1995 when the Bengals selected Penn State standout Ki-Jana Carter.
College Football Betting Previews: SEC | Big Ten | Heismann
FAVORITES: Top Quarterbacks Well Ahead of Field
Ohio State QB CJ Stroud +200 (First)
Ohio State’s starting quarterback is one of most decorated players heading into the 2022 season, sitting atop both the Heisman and 2023 No. 1 pick odds markets. Many scouts believe the First-team All-Big Ten signal-caller possesses all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. If he posts another big season, a team like Seattle, who has one of the lowest betting season win totals (5.5)could easily target Stroud at No. 1.
Alabama QB Bryce Young +225 (Second)
Last season’s Heisman trophy winner is a prospect many NFL general managers desire due to his leadership, as well as the proven track record of being a ‘winner.’ Young has a quick release combined with a strong arm that many believe he is capable of making every throw in NFL playbooks. If he is able to win the Heisman for a second consecutive season, it will likely mean he displayed elite rushing production. Those attributes would likely put Young in a serious battle with Stroud to go No. 1.
SLEEPERS: Three Non-Quarterbacks Crack Top 10
Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr. +330 (Third)
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The dominant Alabama linebacker wreaked havoc last season on opposing offensive lines, leading the country with 17.5 sacks.
Last season’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner has the size that many NFL scouts believe makes him an elite prospect who compares favorably to the former No. 1 picks in Walker, Myles Garrett (2017) and Jadeveon Clowney (2014).
Walker went off the board first pick to Jacksonville, but the 2022 quarterback class was one of the weakest in recent years. Anderson is an elite prospect who will easily be drafted among the top five picks in the 2023 draft. In order for the best edge rusher to go No. 1, he would likely need a team like the jets or falcons (who already have Zach Wilson and Desmond Ridderrespectively) to earn the top pick.
Ohio State OL Paris Johnson (Fourth)
Johnson was one of the best interior lineman in the nation last season and did not allow a sacks in 13 games. At 6’6” and 315 pounds, Johnson moves extremely well and projects as arguably the best run blocker in next season’s offensive line class.
Despite his talents, the intimidating prospect faces an uphill battle as only four offensive lineman have ever been drafted first: Ron Yary (1968, Vikings), Orlando Pace (1997, Rams), Jake Long (2008, Dolphins) and Eric Fisher (2013, Chiefs).
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Seventh)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba quietly led the Buckeyes in receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,606) last season despite being placed in the role of WR3.
The sophomore dominated last year’s Rose Bowl by hauling in 15 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns, and begins the season regarded as the nation’s top wide receiver. Teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave both heard their names called in the first round of the 2022 draft and Smith-Njigba will likely earn that honor in 2023.
Bettors who project an increase in production as the newly anointed WR1, in arguably the nation’s best offense, makes +2800 odds a solid sleeper value. History is not on the explosive talent’s side, though, as only three wide receivers have ever been drafted No. 1: Dave Parks, 1964; Irving Fryar, 1984; Johnson, 1996.
Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting’s Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.
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