There’s a Change at Top of the Draft Forecast

For a couple of months, the Chicago Bears held the 2023 NFL Draft’s first overall pick, and folks weren’t too sure what the club would do with it because Chicago already employs its QB1 in Justin Fields.

So, on March 10th, Chicago ended the mystery and traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for WR D.J. Moore, Carolina’s 1st-Round selection at No. 9, a late-2nd-Rounder (61), a 2024 1st-Round selection, and a 2025 2nd-Round pick — a king’s ransom, indeed.

There’s a Change at Top of the Draft Forecast

Soon after, for about three weeks, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was the odds-on favorite to end up in Carolina with the pick, a relatively unsurprising forecast because Stroud is considered the “safest” bet for a consistent franchise quarterback in this draft.

Fast forward to April, though, and Alabama signal-caller Bryce Young has usurped Stroud as the Vegas darling to become a Panther.

Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) chases Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) out of bounds in the third quarter during the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the 86th Cotton Bowl Classic, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Panthers can do whatever they desire with the first pick, but sportsbooks believe Young is the guy. The 33rd Team’s Ryan Reynolds (not Deadpool) reported this week, “Since the trade, C.J. Stroud has spent the most time as the primary favorite in this market. Bryce Young jumped past him during the past few days, while Anthony Richardson is a long shot to go first overall.”

He then listed the latest odds for Young-to-Panthers:

DraftKings Favorites
Bryce Young -250
C.J. Stroud +180
Anthony Richardson +2000
Will Levis +6000

Change at Top of
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports.

Take a glimpse at the odds for the Houston Texans with the second overall pick, and Stroud is leading the way:

DraftKings Favorites
C.J. Stroud -195
Bryce Young +195
Will Anderson +350
Will Levis +1500
Anthony Richardson +2000

Reynolds explained, “For weeks, there have been rumors the Texans want Young. If you expect Stroud to be a Panther, consider a bet on Young being selected by the Texans. If the Panthers take Young first, there is considerable uncertainty about what the Texans will do.”

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud throws for NFL representatives during Ohio State football s pro day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on March 22, 2023. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Before any odds updates in April, former Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said about Carolina’s draft plans in March, “I think it’s gonna be a very, very surprising pick in Carolina. I just know that there are a couple of guys upstairs that are enamored by the physical ability of Anthony Richardson. I’ll just say that.”

Davis either has more tuned-in knowledge of the Panthers interworkings — or the Panthers are on a highway to make Young the first pick.

The NFL draft is two weeks away.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by