After the Carolina Panthers shook up the NFL Draft with their trade to No. 1 and free agency cleared the picture for teams like the Las Vegas Raiders, where are teams in the top ten likely to go with their selections? Despite the limited markets available on sportsbooks, there are multiple bets worth thinking about, including a sneaky Anthony Richardson landing spot. Let’s dive into the betting landscape at the top of the draft.
- The C.J. Stroud (scouting report) smoke is impossible to ignore, and I expect him to be the pick. However, as a general strategy, I tend to avoid betting heavy favorites in markets over a month before the draft because uncertainty is more likely to shift toward the field. I would not play Stroud at any price steeper than -200, which is his current price at Caesars.
- Andy Dalton makes sense as a bridge quarterback regardless of how “pro-ready” their rookie is. I do not believe Anthony Richardson (scouting report) is more likely to be the pick strictly because they signed a competent veteran.
- There have been rumors linking Bryce Young (scouting report) to the Houston Texans, and taking him at No. 2 would make sense with the Panthers most likely to take Stroud.
>> READ: Bryce Young Can Overcome Size, be Top QB from 2023 Class
- At No. 3, the Arizona Cardinals could look for offers from teams (like the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 and Las Vegas at No. 7) that want to ensure they can draft (at worst) their third-favorite quarterback in the class.
- It is worth noting that first-time general managers like Detroit’s Brad Holmes and Atlanta’s Terry Fontenot of Atlanta elected to stay put in the top seven in 2021 and take blue-chip prospects instead of trading down to a quarterback-needy team. This will be Mossi Ossenfort’s first draft as the Cardinals’ GM.
- Will Anderson Jr. (scouting report) strikes me as the likely pick (with approximately 80 percent confidence) if they select a defensive player. But, again, I do not think Anderson is worth betting at a steep -300 currently available on Fanduel to be the first defensive player selected due to my strategy about uncertainty, as outlined with Stroud.
- At the start of free agency, I was nearly certain the Colts would select a quarterback at No. 4. After signing Gardner Minshew as their veteran and making zero noteworthy additions to the rest of their roster yet, the Colts should be among the favorites for the 2024 No. 1 pick. Perhaps owner Jim Irsay embraces the tank, passes on a quarterback this year, and they play for Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft.
- Reports have me confident that the NFL views Richardson as a work in progress that is more likely than not to sit for much of his rookie year. Will Levis (scouting report) is, perhaps, less likely to start early in his career. So are the Colts willing to roll with Minshew for most of the year and still select their quarterback in 2023 instead of the highly touted 2024 draft?
- I would not bet either Levis or Richardson to be the Colts’ pick at this point in time.
- At the combine, Seattle Seahawks management has explained that they will explore quarterback, noting how rare a top-five pick is for them. The Geno Smith extension is likely a two-year deal. I think they capitalize on a wide-open NFC and take a strong defensive prospect at five, even if their third-favorite quarterback were on the board. A trade-down is firmly in the cards.
- Drew Lock’s contract is another strong signal that a quarterback is unlikely.
- I would not bet either Levis or Richardson to be Seahawks at their current prices.
- If Richardson or Levis slides past Indianapolis and Seattle, I think the Detroit Lions strongly consider selecting them. Despite their love for Jared Goff, I think Brad Holmes knows that Goff limits their ceiling.
- Richardson at 16-1 (Fanduel) to land in the Motor City seems off, especially considering their pick at 18 as a fallback option (it could be used in a trade-up if needed). Levis at 34-1 (Fanduel) is also appealing using the same thesis. The Lions are more QB-hungry than the market is letting on.
Las Vegas Raiders
- Vegas tried to trade up to No. 1, but Carolina out-bid them. It is possible, bordering on likely, that they will take a quarterback at No. 7, with an unlikely move to No. 3 in the range of outcomes. Perhaps Vegas takes a quarterback at No. 7, but I doubt it will move up to get its signal-caller of the future after seeing the rich precedent set in the Carolina-Chicago deal.
- Richardson at 16-1 (Fanduel) to land in Vegas is appealing as a light play because the Raiders have a clear interest in the quarterback position, and I believe the market is too confident in the Colts’ desire to take a quarterback at No. 4, so I want to take bets on quarterbacks falling a bit. They would strike me as a Levis team if someone were to select him early. However, the market also anticipates this. I think the +350 price is appropriate, so I would not bet him to be a Raider at the current price.
- I believe the Atlanta Falcons intend to roll with Desmond Ridder as their starting quarterback. Ridder was a high-character, winning quarterback in college that demonstrated fantastic athleticism, similar in archetype to Jalen Hurts.
- The Taylor Heinicke signing (two years, around $16 million) signals a complete quarterback room.
- If there were to be a team in the top ten to select Bijan Robinson (scouting report), Atlanta would be the favorite. They want to establish the run and have minimally invested in the position. Tyler Allgeier was a fifth-round pick, and I do not think he and Caleb Huntley will prevent coach Arthur Smith and GM Terry Fontenot from selecting Robinson, who is currently +900 (Fanduel), to be a Falcon. At this price, I would consider lightly playing.
- GM Ryan Poles could see another trade down as beneficial. An offensive tackle-needy team between picks 11-16 may move up to secure its preferred target.
- If the Chicago Bears keep the pick, high-value positions along the offensive line, defensive line, and defensive backfield would make sense. A pick along the offensive line strikes me as the most likely, and I think the market is inefficient. I believe Georgia tackle Broderick Jones (scouting report) to be of similar probability as Peter Skoronski (scouting report) and Paris Johnson Jr. (scouting report) as the first lineman taken. Still, he is available at +450 (Fanduel). He should be closer to +250, and I think he is worth taking.
- The Philadelphia Eagles target high-value positions in the first round when they do not trade down (pass rusher, wide receiver, offensive line), so Robinson is not in the cards at No. 10.
- The Eagles’ regime has not taken a first-round cornerback since 2002, but they may aim to target one in the first round. As the board currently stands, Devon Witherspoon (scouting report) and Christian Gonzalez (scouting report) make plenty of sense. If they opt to take an offensive lineman, look for Jones and Johnson as the most likely selections, as they will probably devalue Skoronski because he may project as a guard instead of a tackle.