The NFL and college football seasons are still a few months away, but sportsbooks have already posted odds on who will be the No. 1 pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. A lot could happen between now and next April that could impact who goes No. 1. But that hasn’t stopped some bettors from putting a lot of money down on a relatively unknown quarterback — Kentucky’s Will Levis.
On Monday, Caesars tweeted about a recent bet on Levis to be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft:
An Illinois bettor wagered $1,000 on Will Levis be the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft at +4000 🤔
Potential win: $40,000 pic.twitter.com/SOWIiu1JAI
— Caesars Sportsbook (@CaesarsSports) May 23, 2022
His odds at Caesars quickly dropped to +2500 and have since settled at +2000. That ties Levis with Tyler Van Dyke for the seventh-shortest odds to go No. 1.
Let’s look at the odds for some of the other top candidates in what many believe will be a quarterback-heavy class.
NFL Draft 2023 Odds: No. 1 Pick
2023 NFL Draft-- No. 1 Pick Caesars DraftKings FanDuel
CJ Stroud +230 +200 +200
Bryce Young +230 +225 +200
Will Anderson +375 +330 +300
Paris Johnson +1200 +1000 +1500
Jaxon Smith-Njigba +1600 +1500 +2000
Phil Jurkovec +1600 +1500 +4000
Will Levis +2000 +1500 +1600
Tyler Van Dyke +2000 +1800 +2000
Kedon Slovis +2500 +5000 +8000
Spencer Rattler +2500 +2000 +10000
Bryan Breese +3000 +2500 +3000
Eli Ricks +3000 +3000 +4000
Peter Skoronski +3000 +2500 +2500
Anthony Richardson +3500 +2500
Levis may be more known for how he eats bananas than for playing quarterback, but the Kentucky prospect has all the qualities NFL teams like to see in their franchise quarterbacks, and he’s battle-tested. Levis led the Wildcats to their first 10+ win season since 2018 and second since 1977. While their non-conference schedule was soft, they went 5-3 in the SEC.
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) October 10, 2021
Of course, to go No. 1, he’ll have to beat out a couple of other top-notch quarterbacks, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young. Both come from programs known for turning out NFL talent and were more productive than Levis last year. Additionally, protecting the ball may make them stand out even more from Levis.
Last season, Levis threw as many interceptions (13) as Stroud (6) and Young combined (7) while tossing just 24 touchdowns (Stroud had 44 and Young had 47).
While quarterbacks likely will dominate the first round next year, a couple of position players have a chance of going No. 1. If the team with the first pick does not need a QB, there is an excellent chance Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is the first name called by Roger Goodell in Kansas City. Paris Johnson is the highest-rated guard, but PFF has him ranked as the 17th best player.
Betting Analysis: Will Levis Could Go No. 1
Many people will balk at the idea of Levis as the No. 1 selection over Stroud or Young. They’ll point to the production for all three as the reason why. From that standpoint, Stroud and Young have been better college quarterbacks. However, playing well in college does not always translate to playing well in the NFL.
The quarterbacks taken in the 2018 draft are great examples. Baker Mayfield had a stellar career for the Sooners at Oklahoma, and the Browns took him with the No. 1 pick. Sam Darnold had an exceptional career at USC and went with the third pick. Darnold is on the verge of washing out of the NFL, and Mayfield’s career is also in question.
Josh Allen was the No. 7 pick and third QB taken in the 2018 Draft. His stats were not impressive, and he never led Wyoming to more than eight wins and was not an accurate passer. Four years later, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. His Bills are the favorite to win Super Bowl 57 and he sits on top of NFL MVP odds boards.
Allen, like Levis, had the physical traits NFL teams like to see in a franchise quarterback.
The team with the No. 1 pick may still get enamored with the success of Stroud or Young. But if that team can look beyond the stats and rankings, Levis could be the first player taken in the 2023 NFL Draft.