2023 NFL Draft first round betting recap and top storylines
Before we all turn our attention to the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, why not take a quick look at some of the top betting storylines from the first round? The Carolina Panthers selected Bryce Young with the first pick of the draft, but that's about the only thing that went to plan. The night was full of twists and turns and we'll break down how it all played out on the betting market here.
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Reason prevails as C.J. Stroud goes to the Houston Texans at No. 2
In the end, C.J. Stroud ended up going where he belonged. The Houston Texans selected Stroud with the second pick in the draft, despite every leak imaginable suggesting he’d slide. There was smoke blowing in every direction possible, but the Texans stood pat and got their guy.
Stroud threw for 348 yards with four touchdowns and no picks in the College Football Playoff semifinals, and he did that against an elite Georgia Bulldogs defense. However, a poor score on the NFL’s new S2 cognitive test was rumored to be the demise of the former Ohio State Buckeyes star. But reason prevailed in the end, with Houston choosing to ignore that and look at the on-field production.
Stroud threw for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdowns and six picks in 2021, and he followed it up by throwing for 3,688 yards with 41 touchdowns and six picks in 2022. His cognitive process proved to be elite when he shredded every defense he faced in Columbus.
Once a -400 favorite to go first overall, Stroud got up to as high as +600 to go second. But right before the draft, he became a -2400 favorite to be Houston’s pick. From there, the writing was on the wall.
Texans trade up and grab Will Anderson Jr.
Right after selecting Stroud with the second pick in the draft, the Texans pulled off one of the most shocking moves in the history of the NFL Draft. Houston decided to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 to go up and grab Will Anderson Jr., who was a -300 favorite to be picked with the Texans’ second pick earlier in the day. In Stroud and Anderson, Houston now has elite young talent on both sides of the ball. It’ll now be up to head coach DeMeco Ryans to get the absolute best out of both.
Will Levis slides out of the first round
Well, this draft should serve as a lesson to never trust Reddit posters with your hard-earned money again. While the talk of the last couple of days has been Will Levis’ potential to be the first-overall pick — and whether Barry Koeghan would play Joker in The Batman 2 — the Kentucky quarterback ended up slipping out of the first round. Make sure you check out Adam Burke’s story on Levis’ wild draft night and where things go from here.
Under 4.5 quarterbacks picked in the first round
Not only did we not see five quarterbacks taken in the first round, but we ended up only seeing three signal callers selected in the first 31 picks. That means that the under 4.5 quarterbacks prop easily cashed at -145 odds, with Levis and Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker both being available as we enter the second round.
Over 1.5 running backs in the first round cashes at No. 12
The total on running backs selected in the first round was 1.5, and the odds to take the over were -400. However, nobody can actually say that they expected two running backs to be off the board after the 12th pick in the draft. Bijan Robinson was always a guy that the Atlanta Falcons were rumored to be interested in, but nobody predicted that the Detroit Lions would select Jahmyr Gibbs. Detroit already has D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery under contract for next season, so saying the move came out of nowhere would be an understatement. It’ll be interesting to see what the Lions have planned for this talented group of rushers.
Four wide receivers picked in a row
It took longer than expected for the first wide receiver to come off the board, as the Seattle Seahawks made Jaxon Smith-Njigba the first one taken with the 20th pick in the draft. Smith-Njigba was a -400 favorite to be the first wideout selected, and a lot of draft analysts viewed him as a top-15 prospect. The Smith-Njigba pick did, however, set off a run on wide receivers, as three were picked immediately after the Ohio State wideout. That meant that the over on 3.5 wide receivers picked in the first round cashed at -225 odds, but the nature in which it happened had to have made for one heck of a sweat for those that bet it.
Under 5.5 offensive linemen in the first round
The Over/Under on offensive linemen selected in the first round was set at 5.5, and the under was going off at ridiculous +350 odds. We wrote before the draft that the under was the sharp play, as only five linemen were really discussed as potential first rounders. Paris Johnson Jr., Darnell Wright, Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones and Anton Harrison were five players that people were high on, and all five were top-31 picks. But there was never a true candidate to be the sixth one taken in the first round, so this was one of the best bets you could have made for the evening.
Eagles land two studs out of Georgia
This really isn’t much of a draft betting observation, but the Philadelphia Eagles once again won the draft, on paper. The Eagles got Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter with the ninth pick in the draft, but many people believe he’s the best defensive player in this class. Carter does come with some off-field concerns, but he’s an impressive talent and the Eagles have done a good job of getting the most out of these types of guys in the past. Philadelphia then got Carter’s teammate, Nolan Smith, with the 30th pick in the draft. A lot of mock drafts had Smith as a top-15 pick, so it’s hard not to like what Philadelphia was able to do to bolster its defense in the first round.
Under 2 tight ends in the first round
The Over/Under on tight ends selected in the first round was 2, but only Dalton Kincaid ended up being selected. That’s a big win for anybody that took the under, as it was going off at +285 odds heading into the night. The tight end position was also an interesting one because Michael Mayer was the betting favorite to be the first tight end selected.