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NFL Draft No. 1 Pick Odds: Analyzing C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Anderson, More

NFL Draft No. 1 Pick Odds: Analyzing C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Anderson, More article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: C.J. Stroud (left) and Bryce Young.

The Favorites

C.J. Stroud (+185)

Between the top two quarterbacks in this class, Stroud has both the size and the arm NFL evaluators are looking for. Not that Bryce Young has a weak arm by any means, but Stroud is able to throw with a mixture of power and touch not many have. At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Stroud looks the part of a franchise quarterback.

Stroud is an elite pocket passer, able to stand in and deliver throws where they’re supposed to be when everything around him works. His accuracy at all levels of the field and his ball placement are impressive as well.

CJ Stroud's ball placement across multiple throw variations is so damn consistent — this is probably his best of the season. pic.twitter.com/JLXDwTLNqT

— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) October 26, 2022

The most striking thing watching Stroud is how comfortable he is in the pocket. He has the ability to be a decent scrambler, but he often trusts his arm way more and hardly ever looks to run.

A concern with Stroud is the offense he plays in at Ohio State. Some of the best receivers in the country over the past two years have been on the receiving end of Stroud’s passes. These players are elite route runners and seemingly always open, making Stroud’s job much easier.

Because of this, Stroud doesn’t often have to improvise or face pressure in the pocket. I think a big question mark around Stroud will be how he is able to handle pressure when the pocket breaks down at the professional level.

This year Stroud has progressed as a passer and is in the running to win the Heisman Trophy and potentially a national championship. We will find out down the stretch who Stroud is as a quarterback, and a title could push him over Young in the minds of NFL decision-makers.

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Bryce Young (+250)

When you watch Young, it looks like the game just moves slower to him. He has elite vision and does a great job keeping his eyes down field as he extends plays. Young’s ability to manage the pocket and be elusive under pressure is one of the main reasons he has a chance to find success at the next level.

This play against LSU is a great example of the way Young is able to maneuver the pocket with great skill, while still seeing the rest of the field to make big plays:

pic.twitter.com/YzrEw7zJ8F

— pickett’s pool (@PickettsPool) November 6, 2022

The biggest concern about Young from NFL teams is going to revolve around his size. There haven’t been many (any?) quarterbacks to have success with his style of play and size combination, much less one that you are drafting to be your franchise cornerstone.

Young stands at just 6-feet tall and weighs 194 pounds. Teams may have concerns about how his size affects both his ability to see the field and his durability.

Young does occasionally get happy feet in the pocket and doesn’t always get his feet set right whenever trying to make a throw. His ability to throw off-platform helps him overcome this most of the time.

Outside of this, my only other concern would be Young’s decisions to force passes. These examples typically come when Alabama is losing and he feels forced to make a play. He’ll need to reign this in to avoid turning the ball over at the NFL level.

Will Anderson (+300)

Last season, Anderson popped onto the scene as the most dominant defensive player in college football. Without a doubt, he would have been the first overall pick in last year’s draft if he was eligible for it.

Things have become harder this year as opposing offenses have focused more on him. He has also had to take on more responsibility on this Alabama defense to cover some of its flaws.

Just because his numbers aren’t as great this year doesn’t mean that Anderson was a flash in the pan. He’s an elite edge rusher and one of the better ones to enter the draft in the last five years.

Anderson has everything you could want from an edge prospect. He has great size and is ridiculously strong, mixing those traits with quickness in space and his ability to use his hands well:

Will Anderson with a club/swim from the 4i for the sack pic.twitter.com/XLmYUKY4Co

— Billy M (@BillyM_91) November 9, 2022

At the NFL, he’s probably best used as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense, lined up on the tackle or used more towards the inside. His only weakness has been his ability to turn around the edge with bend and speed since that isn’t really his game. However, Anderson is an athletic freak and I wouldn’t rule out the chance that he could develop that skill.

The Likely Teams

Houston Texans (1-8-1)

Currently, the Texans have the highest odds to land the first overall pick. Before this week, DraftKings listed Houston at -250 to have the worst regular season record, and the team is increasing its chances to get this pick every week.

With how devoid of talent Houston’s roster is, it will have a lot of different options. If the Texans believe Davis Mills is their answer at quarterback, they could stick with him, but moving on and getting “the guy” under center seems like the most obvious option.

A high-end defensive player like Will Anderson could be an option for Houston as well, since it could use an anchor on the front end of that defense to go along with current rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and safety Jalen Pitre, both of whom have looked promising this season.

I also wouldn’t rule out the Texans trading out of this pick to acquire more assets for their rebuild. The Deshaun Watson trade helped them restock their war chest, but they have been lacking draft capital over the last few years and need all the talent they can get.

With where Houston is right now, it would make the most sense for Stroud or Young to be the first overall pick, whether it be to the Texans or to whichever team trades up to get its pick of the litter.

Las Vegas Raiders (3-7)

Las Vegas currently has the third-best odds of having the worst record at +750. Following an offseason in which the Raiders made aggressive moves to add Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, as well as hire Josh McDaniels, big things were expected in Sin City. Instead, the Raiders are staring down another terrible season and looking toward the possibility of another rebuild.

In April, Derek Carr agreed to a 3-year, $121.5 million extension to stay in Las Vegas. On the surface, this looks like it means the Raiders are committed to him long term. However, when you look at the details of this contract they tell a different story.

The Raiders actually have a potential out in Carr’s deal after this year. By moving on from Carr in the offseason, the Raiders can save $29.25 million against the cap just in 2023. They would also only have a very minimal amount of dead cap against them in ’24 and ’25, as well.

What does this mean? It’s hard to tell, but it does offer the Raiders some flexibility.

If they were to get the No. 1 pick and stay in this slot, this would set them up well to try to take a quarterback to try to compete with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert in the AFC West for years to come. They could draft Carr’s replacement and move on from him either after this season or the next, if they believe that this draft pick may need some time to develop.

With how much Las Vegas has already invested on the edge, Will Anderson is likely not a possibility. The Raiders have plenty of holes on defense and along the offensive line, so it would make sense for them to trade back to draft for need and recoup some of the picks from the Adams trade.

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Other Teams Holding Top 10 Picks:

Teams That Would Pick Stroud or Young: Panthers, Seahawks, Lions

All of these teams have flaws in other places, but the most notable is a franchise quarterback.

Carolina has been flipping through quarterbacks for the past few years. I believe that if they were to get the top pick they would draft a quarterback without a doubt, but they did also pass on Fields in 2021 in favor of trading for Sam Darnold.

Geno Smith and Jared Goff have both played well enough that they aren’t part of the problem, and Smith has performed far better than expected. However, it’s likely that neither is “the guy” for their team. Both also have plenty of defensive holes that a player like Anderson or Jalen Carter could cover up.

Teams That Would Pick Anderson or a Non-QB: Eagles, Jaguars, Bears, Steelers

The last three teams listed here all drafted a quarterback in the first round in the last two years and unless something changes, none of them would be a candidate to go quarterback at one.

Philadelphia is the wild card here. The Eagles currently hold the Saints‘ pick, which is the fourth overall pick heading into Week 12. Jalen Hurts has played well this season and odds are that Philadelphia would likely stick with him, but general manager Howie Roseman has been known to make some bold decisions at quarterback.

Depending on how the playoffs go for the Eagles and how high this pick could be, I wouldn’t rule out a new quarterback for them in 2023.

My Bet

I’m not the one drafting these players, so my evaluation really means nothing when looking at where the value is in the betting market. Stroud and Young are the top two favorites right now, as they should be.

I don’t see enough value in taking Stroud at +185. Young at +250 is a better bet between the two QBs right now.

The same can be said about Anderson on the defensive side. With the value of quarterbacks in today’s NFL, chances are that one of these signal-callers would be the first selection. Last year’s draft was different from the standpoint that there were not any clear-cut, stud quarterback prospects who belonged at the top of a draft. Even though he is an elite edge rusher, I don’t think betting Anderson at +300 is a great bet.

With about five months to the draft, if you’re locking your money up with one of these futures, you probably want it to be worth your while. It’s a long shot, but there’s one other player that I could see sneaking into the conversation with these three: Jalen Carter.

Carter is an interior defensive lineman at Georgia. On the same defense as the top pick in last year’s draft (as well as much of the first round), it was Carter who was the team’s best player. He was constantly blowing up plays and disrupting the opposing offense:

Watch #88 Jalen Carter pic.twitter.com/nHz7erpJSo

— Trey 7 (@Trey2Trigger) November 15, 2022

The value of interior linemen in the NFL doesn’t match up to quarterback or edge rusher, but teams will see how special Carter is and disregard positional value in order to get a player who could be the next Aaron Donald.

Carter is currently +2500 at FanDuel, so I love taking him as a long shot as he is almost a shoe-in to be a top-four pick if his medicals are good.

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