DraftKings Sportsbook already has released a first-overall pick market for the 2024 NFL Draft. We can analyze this new market and use this as an opportunity to discuss strategies for future bettors.
Before we get into the contenders, let’s first figure out what the teams with the lowest win totals would likely do if they landed the first overall pick.
>> READ: 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
Teams Likely to Pick No. 1
Arizona Cardinals: 5.5 Wins
The Arizona Cardinals have Kyler Murray, who is expected to miss at least part of the 2023 NFL season, recovering from an ACL tear. That leaves Colt McCoy penciled in as the Cardinals' opening-day starter. If McCoy plays for half of the season or more, Arizona easily could pick within the top three for two years in a row.
If the Cardinals end up being the worst team in the league, they could keep Murray and trade back with a quarterback-needy team. Or, they could trade Murray and use those assets to build around a new quarterback. Additionally, the Cardinals have two first-round picks next year. If they want to move up in next year’s draft, they have the draft capital to do so.
Houston Texans: 5.5 Wins
The Houston Texans traded their first-round pick to the Cardinals, but they still have the Cleveland Browns first-round pick next season. That greatly reduces their chances of landing next year’s first overall pick.
Even if they do, the Texans just selected C.J. Stroud (scouting report) with the second overall pick. That doesn’t completely preclude them from taking a new quarterback next season, but it greatly reduces the chances of that happening. Consider the Texans a team that will most likely trade back if they land the first overall pick, with a slight chance they’d take the best pass catcher on the board.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6.5 Wins
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finish the season with the league’s worst record, they are taking a quarterback. Plain and simple.
Indianapolis Colts: 6.5 Wins
Similar to the Texans, the Indianapolis Colts just selected a potential franchise quarterback — Anthony Richardson (scouting report) with the fourth overall pick. If they finish the season with the league’s worst record, they are more likely to trade back than select a new, top-of-the-draft signal caller.
Potentially QB-Needy Teams
Note: All Teams listed here have 7.5 projected win totals
If Justin Fields has a bad year and the Chicago Bears end up with the first pick two years in a row, Chicago could elect to take a new quarterback in next year’s draft. The Bears have two first-round picks next season, giving them the draft capital to trade up if they want.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers' interest in a new quarterback will be determined by how much progress Jordan Love shows this season. If they finish with the worst record in the league, Green Bay likely takes a new quarterback.
New England Patriots
After a solid rookie campaign, Mac Jones had a sophomore slump. If the New England Patriots finish with a bottom-five record, there is a strong chance they are looking for a new quarterback in the draft.
Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams
If the Los Angeles Rams bomb for the second year in a row, there is a high chance Matthew Stafford had another injury-riddled season. In that scenario, the Rams will have an interest in a top-of-the-draft quarterback.
If the Tennessee Titans land the first pick, we can reasonably expect Will Levis (scouting report) will have started multiple games down the stretch. In that scenario, the Titans could either select a new quarterback and trade Levis. Alternatively, they could keep Levis and trade back for a massive haul.
Resounding Favorite: Caleb Williams -550
Caleb Williams is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and he’s an Andrew Luck or Trevor Lawrence-level quarterback prospect. Williams should be the clear favorite in this market, but should you bet him at -550 odds?
The answer to that question is no for the overwhelming majority of sports bettors. Here’s why:
First, if you make a futures bet that you’ll have to wait a year for a resolution, you should only do so if you’re getting a considerable value. Williams’ odds in this market have already moved from -500 to -550, so he may become a more expensive bet as we get closer to opening day.
That said, if you were to bet $100 on Williams at -550 odds, you’d make $18.18 in profit if Williams was selected first overall. A year is a long time to wait for $18.18, especially when there is no guarantee Williams will go first.
Ultimately, there is too much downside in taking this bet this far out. An injury or an off-field incident could completely change Williams’ perceived value heading into next year’s draft. We’ve seen that happen to countless top-of-the-draft prospects through the years. What’s even more concerning is the potential for a down year.
As an example: A few years ago Sam Darnold hung 453 yards passing and five scores in the Rose Bowl, against Penn State, to cap off his first year as USC’s starting quarterback. Entering his second year, Darnold was widely viewed as the no doubt, first-overall pick in that coming year’s draft class.
Darnold’s second season was fine, but he struggled mightily against a superior Ohio State team in the Cotton Bowl, which was Darnold’s final collegiate game. Darnold was selected third overall by the Jets, getting jumped by fellow QB Baker Mayfield and RB Saquon Barkley.
Williams is a better prospect than Darnold in a number of ways. Further, USC has a manageable schedule this season, which creates a clear path to Williams being massively productive again. That said, these situations are close enough that one bad game, at the wrong time, could change Williams' perceived value heading into next year’s draft.
The Other Quarterback: Drake Maye +600
North Carolina’s Drake Maye is a dual-threat quarterback that threw for 4,321 yards passing and 38 touchdowns while adding 698 yards rushing and two scores on the ground last season. North Carolina has a reasonably manageable schedule this season, paving the way for another productive season for Maye.
The biggest downside for Maye, apart from having to contend with Williams, is wide receiver Josh Downs (scouting report) entered the draft this season. North Carolina isn’t known for having Alabama or Ohio State level skill positions players year in and year out, making Downs a big loss for Maye.
Since he’s a highly productive quarterback, Maye is the biggest threat to Williams in the first-overall pick market. At least, for now.
Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. +2000
The existence of Williams and Maye makes it unlikely a non-quarterback goes first overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. That said, if Houston ends up with the first overall pick, they will at least consider pairing Stroud with his former college teammate Harrison. Arizona or Indianapolis could elect to do the same thing if they land the first overall pick.
All of those teams likely trade back in this scenario, but Harrison is a historic wide receiver prospect with a Hall of Fame bloodline. We shouldn’t completely cross him off to go first overall at this extremely early juncture, which is why he’s the third favorite in this race.
Penn State OL Olumuyiwa Fashanu +2500
The other nearly entrenched top-five, non-quarterback prospect is Penn State’s monster offensive lineman, Fashanu. He will likely contend with Harrison to be the first non-quarterback off the board next year. For Fashanu to go first overall, both Williams and Maye will need to have negative seasons.
Only one sportsbook has released a market for the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Williams likely goes first, and if he doesn’t, Maye is most likely to jump Williams.
If you’re interested in Williams, see if you can get a better line at another sportsbook in the coming weeks, but expect -550 to be his relative price range. That’s too rich for our blood considering we have to wait a full year for a resolution on that bet.
If Maye opens near 10-1 odds at another sportsbook — a bet worth considering — even though Williams is the standalone favorite in this market for a reason.
If we have any bets related to the 2024 NFL Draft over the coming months, we will drop them in our FREE Discord.