2023 NFL Draft odds: Best early bets, from Jalen Carter to Quentin Johnston
The NFL Draft is officially under a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about how we’re wagering on this three-day event.
Like every year, players’ draft stock is fluid until their names are called. But watching the tape from these kids’ college careers always helps point bettors in the right direction when it comes to where they will land on the biggest night of their lives.
For me, the biggest questions are which lineman will come off the board first, and where will Georgia’s Jalen Carter end up playing during his rookie season?
Let’s try to beat the market. Here are my three early favorite wagers to make for the big day.
Peter Skoronski to be first offensive lineman drafted +200
I will gladly take 2-to-1 odds on the best offensive lineman in the draft to be the first name off the board for the position. As is often the case, these odds can move based on public perception of players, and right now the public is super high on Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson Jr after his outstanding Pro Day last week. However, a Pro Day workout is a tiny part of the overall evaluation of a prospect, and Skoronski has better film. Skoronski also boasts a fantastic combine. He finished second in the broad jump and vertical for offensive linemen. He also finished ninth in the 10-yard split time and tested as an explosive player, which matches his Northwestern film. And that film exposes very few holes in his game.
The added benefit of drafting Skoronski is his ability to move around the offensive line. He can play right tackle, and his size would allow teams to move him inside to guard. As the draft order stands now, the Chicago Bears, with the ninth pick, appear to be the first team that would select an offensive lineman. The Bears offensive line could use help at multiple positions, and drafting Skoronski would allow the Bears to play the best five offensive linemen.
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Seattle to draft Jalen Carter +500
Three quarterbacks will be selected in the first four picks of the draft. Whether those quarterbacks are selected in picks one, two, three or one, two and four is up for debate. Either way, Seattle will be sitting at pick five without its favorite option at quarterback to pick. So look for the Seahawks to turn their attention to the defensive line — the next-highest graded position in the draft.
Will Anderson Jr., the pass rusher from Alabama, and Jalen Carter, the disruptive interior tackle from Georgia, are the two options.
Most presume Will Anderson will be drafted before Jalen Carter in the spot not occupied by a quarterback in the top four because of his production over three seasons at Alabama (34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for a loss) and also because he doesn’t have off-field concerns as we’ve seen with Carter. That leaves him for the Seahawks, and I do not see Pete Carroll passing up the opportunity to draft this beast for his defense.
Carroll has seemed indifferent during his coaching career to having players on his roster with “off the field” concerns. Therefore, I don’t think Carter’s problems will be an issue for Carroll. At 5-1 odds, this bet is definitely worth a sprinkle.
Does Bill Belichick have anything left to prove in the NFL?
Bill Belichick was asked yesterday what type of optimism Patriots fans should have moving forward, Belichick simply responded quote, “the last 25 years.”
Quentin Johnston to be first wide receiver taken +550
Johnston’s monster production at TCU leads many to believe he can be the first receiver off the board. In his last season, the pass catcher had over 1,000 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Johnston didn’t run at the combine but ran a 4.49 at TCU’s Pro Day. For a 6’3 and 208-pounder, that is considered moving. His frame is ideal for NFL teams who need a big-play receiver. Johnston’s speed at his size and height could be just what helps him end up as the first receiver taken off the board.
It would be impossible to pass up a player with his college production and NFL athletic upside. The current favorite to be drafted first at the position is Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who had a single productive season in college. While that season was fantastic (over 1600 yards in 13 games), it might scare off NFL teams from taking him over Johnston.
Also worth noting: Some believe Smith-Njigba to be a slot receiver in the NFL. Would an NFL team take a slot receiver over Johnston? I think the value is way too high on Johnson at +550 here.
Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @GeoffSchwartz.
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