The 2023 NFL Draft season is officially upon us, and betting lines will undoubtedly fluctuate like the weather over the next two months.
This week’s NFL Combine is a great table setter for players’ stock to rise and fall, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The closer you get to draft day, the likelier it is information leaks out about what teams really want.
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Last year’s No. 1 overall pick market was a damn merry-go-round. Four different players were installed as the betting favorite from early January to late April and that doesn’t even include Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux having the shortest odds to go first during the heart of college football season.
Media reports help drive draft narratives – and betting prices – but you can really capitalize at the window with the correct information.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is the consensus favorite to be selected first overall this April, and it’s still relatively cheap to make that bet right now. Young is anywhere from -145 to -170 despite the Chicago Bears having their supposed quarterback of the future in Justin Fields.
Obviously, off-the-field issues involving Georgia defensive Jalen Carter affect the first overall market, too. Carter was being dealt in the +500 to +700 range to go No. 1 last week and I now see him as high as +1600 in the market.
We’ll have to wait and see how that all plays out.
Either way, there’s a good chance Young’s odds rise to -300 ($300 wins $100) or higher in the next few weeks. Especially if Chicago trades the top pick to an NFL team with a serious deficiency at quarterback, like Houston or Indianapolis.
“It feels inevitable that a trade will happen at No. 1,” one professional bettor told FOX Sports. “Especially with a talent like Bryce Young available. Every year you look up in the NFL Playoffs and the best quarterbacks are usually standing around Championship Sunday.
“Organizations watch [Patrick] Mahomes, [Jalen] Hurts and [Joe] Burrow dominate in the postseason, and it creates an appetite for teams to be bold in the spring in hopes of making sustained runs in the winter.”
I’ve talked to multiple NFL sources who believe Young is the guy no matter what [a la Vontae Mack]. Some pundits are knocking his frame and height, which makes me laugh. How many prototypical 6’3″ and 6’4″ quarterbacks busted out? Sure, they were built like statues, but they couldn’t play.
Yet Young delivered in countless big moments in college.
When it became crystal clear that Jacksonville was dead set on edge rusher Travon Walker the week of last year’s draft, his price to go No. 1 absolutely skyrocketed. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to lay -140 on Monday when I could’ve bet Walker as an underdog in previous weeks, but he was as high as -450 by draft day.
I was all but promised that the Falcons were going to do cartwheels if Pitts was available at No. 4 and wrote about taking advantage at the betting window. FOX Bet was dealing Pitts “Under” 5.5 at -175 and by late Thursday afternoon, that market was down to O/U 4.5 with the Under priced at -800.
Information travels fast, huh?
We’ll get more and more betting markets in the coming weeks and have the necessary discussions in this space about what to bet on after the NFL Combine dust settles.
In the meantime, do your best to ignore the smoke screens – like Anthony Richardson to go No. 1 – and pay very close attention to what draft experts are saying in columns and on podcasts.
There’s definitely money to be made.
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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