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One of the top sports betting interests in the NFL world relates to the 2023 NFL draft. More specifically, the futures bet in the category of the No. 1 overall pick continues to gain momentum.

Although Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is still the favorite, there is much uncertainty at the top of the draft with the Chicago Bears holding all the cards. What will happen on Thursday, April 27, 2023? Will it be the Bears on the clock or someone else?

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NFL Combine: The Key to the Draft

Bryce Young has been projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft since at least last season. However, the Underwear Olympics, otherwise known as the NFL Combine, is always the first place where “consensus” No. 1 overall picks become not-so-consensus.

Just ask Aaron Rodgers, the current New York Jets quarterback target. Rodgers was widely seen as the best quarterback in the 2005 NFL Draft. However, at the Combine and pro day, Alex Smith wowed scouts and executives with his measurables. Sure enough, Smith went No. 1 overall, and Rodgers made his free-fall all the way down to No. 24.

At the time, the drop cost Rodgers millions of dollars and embarrassment on public television. He also lost the chance to start immediately and rode the pine for three years until the Packers decided they were done with Brett Favre’s yearly “to be or not to be, that is the question.”

In hindsight, it worked out for Rodgers, who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Who knows what would have happened had he been forced into the starting lineup from Day 1 on a 49ers team that was the equivalent of today’s Texans: bereft of talent.

Will Bryce Young make a similar Rodgersian fall? Even if he falls out of the No. 1 slot, it’s highly unlikely. Just within the top 10 of the draft, the Texans, Colts, Raiders, Falcons, and Panthers all need quarterbacks, and the Seahawks and Lions could both choose to pick a QB of the future.

Who can challenge Young for the No. 1 overall slot, though?

Anthony Richardson: Classic QB Conundrum

In the last five or six years, the NFL has moved firmly away from picking prototypical pocket passers at high slots in the draft. There is an emphasis on mobility and athleticism; teams want QBs who can create when the play breaks down.

Sometimes, as Kurt Warner warns, teams focus too much on what goes on out-of-structure without considering the importance of a QB who can be highly effective within structure.

In this year’s draft, Anthony Richardson is that raw, toolsy quarterback who is rocketing up draft boards much as Zach Wilson did two years ago. Pro Football Focus states that Richardson’s quarterback tools are “arguably the best since Cam Newton in 2011.” He combines a cannon arm with footwork problems that lead to wild inaccuracy at times as well as a lack of touch.

Many are projecting that Richardson will overtake Young as the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick after the Combine. NFL executives continue to fall in love with measurables, and with a QB who might have the best in 12 years, it’s understandable that some GMs would be salivating.

However, let Wilson be a cautionary tale for teams who fall in love so quickly. Yes, Wilson was not Josh Allen, but Richardson has a bit of both QBs in him. The inaccuracy and wild footwork is not always so easy to fix at the NFL level. Allen did so, but it’s not too often that you see his level of improvement in the league.

Do the Bears Stand Pat?

When the Texans beat the Colts by going for two in Week 18, they gifted the Bears with the No. 1 overall pick. The thing is that Chicago just took a quarterback in the top 10 two years ago, and Justin Fields drew rave reviews in 2022 with his athleticism and penchant for highlight-reel plays.

Still, Fields faces many questions about his passing abilities. There are some who think the Bears should trade Fields and select a quarterback, much as the Cardinals did in 2019 when they took Kyler Murray and traded Josh Rosen after picking him at the top of the first round the year prior.

However, Fields’s value will not be nearly as high as that of the No. 1 overall pick. That’s just the way the league works. Judging by the three first-round picks that the 49ers traded for the right to draft Trey Lance in 2021, Chicago can get quite a haul if they trade that pick.

The first step, though, is to convince teams that they may legitimately stand pat and draft a QB. Teams are less likely to trade up if they think that Chicago is going to take Jalen Carter or Will Anderson with the pick.

From the Bears’ standpoint, it makes by far the most sense to trade down to the highest bidder. Their roster is so bereft of players worth paying that they traded Robert Quinn to the Eagles and ate most of his 2022 salary since they weren’t using the money elsewhere.

If Fields is going to develop as a passer, Chicago needs to surround him with weapons. Trading down would go a long way toward that, particularly if they could get a solid NFL starter along with some premium picks.

bet365: No. 1 Pick NFL Draft Odds

Bryce Young remains the favorite to go No. 1 overall at -160. C.J. Stroud is next at +225, followed by Will Levis at +600, and then Richardson and Jalen Carter at +700.

However, Richardson opened at +10000 at many sportsbooks and was at +4000 just a week ago. +700 is a massive leap up the boards in response to the buzz surrounding him. Soon enough, he could leapfrog Young as the favorite.

Personally, if I had the No. 1 pick, I’d go with either Young or Stroud. But NFL teams are predictable in their constant swings for the fences, which is what makes Richardson such a wild card in this draft.

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