Best prop bets for the 2023 NFL Draft

Pasadena, CA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs in the second quarter against the Utah Utes during the 2022 Rose Bowl college football game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bet on Bryce Young to be the first QB off the board: The talented signal-caller is the most talented QB in the class and has a real chance of going first overall.
  • Bet on Jaxon Smith-Njigba to be the first WR off the board: The slot specialist has seen his draft stock improve recently, making him a smart bet to be the first wide receiver picked during the 2023 NFL Draft.
  • Bet on Dalton Kincaid to be the first TE off the board: Kincaid's top-notch receiving ability gives him a real shot to be the first tight end picked in this year's draft.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The 2023 NFL Draft is a little less than a month away; therefore, it's a great time to peruse the betting market for some enticing prop bets surrounding the event. With NFL draft season rumors and reports are swirling, the betting odds can change at a moment's notice. Truth be told, nobody knows who these teams will take. So instead of listening solely to the news cycle, we can use the tape and data to help get a better view of these markets to uncover the hidden values further down the board.

Today, we’re talking about the prop bets surrounding the first player selected from each available position group market. 

Editor's note: All odds courtesy FanDuel Sportsbook

No. 1 overall pick

For a majority of this pre-draft cycle, Young was believed to be the betting favorite for the first pick in the draft, seeing odds as short as -180 in spots. That has since changed following the Carolina Panthers' acquisition of the top pick, resulting in Stroud leaping over Young as the favorite to be the first player off the board. Many draft analysts believe Stroud better fits new head coach Frank Reich's QB preferences – size – which is the driving force behind this movement. 

Both Young (91.3 PFF passing grade; first in FBS) and Stroud (89.0 PFF Passing grade; eighth in FBS) would be welcome additions to Carolina’s offense, as Reich has brushed off suggestions he has a preferred build. Although Stroud has the best odds currently, there is still much sentiment around the league that Young is still the pick. PFF’s Steve Palazzolo and Mike Renner both placed Young above Stroud in their recent rankings, and Peter King reported that Young has fans inside the Panthers.

Stroud isn’t without his own question marks, which makes this separation at the top of the board much closer than the odds would suggest — nearly a 73% implied probability that Stroud is the pick. Given Young's high-end talent, +210 is an exceptional value.

BET: Bryce Young (+210)

First wide receiver drafted

Addison opened as the favorite to be the first receiver off of the board but has since fallen from grace following a lackluster performance at the combine. Replacing Addison at the top of the board is Smith-Njigba — an elite route-running talent whose technical skill stands out among the best in the country. Despite missing most of last season due to injury, JSN has the shortest odds based on his fantastic 2021 season, in which he finished with the 19th-highest wins above average (WAA) in FBS. Smith-Njigba’s skill set fits into virtually every NFL offense, which further reinforces his odds at the top of the board. 

Although JSN is the favorite for a reason, there is still potential for another name to emerge from the group. Flowers has risen up draft boards due to his incredible quickness and elusiveness, gaining attention from bettors. At the same time, Johnston is the top receiver prospect for PFF’s Mike Renner. Although unlikely, either has a non-zero chance of being the first received picked. 

BET: Jaxon Smith-Njigba -160

First tight end drafted

This market is largely a two-man race between Kincaid and Mayer for the top spot. Oddsmakers have Mayer atop the group due to his prototypical size (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) and massive usage at Notre Dame, but this is a close race out. Kincaid carries great value at +175, as he has the necessary traits to be a talented move-tight end at the next level. Though he lacks size, Kincaid has the skill set and receiving ability teams look for when they want to feature the tight end heavily. 

Washington is getting attention for his massive size (6-foot-7, 270 pounds), but his lack of usage at Georgia won’t help his cause. Additionally, the guys mentioned previously possess more prototypical tight end traits, making Kincaid the best choice at plus-odds.

BET: Dalton Kincaid (+175)

First offensive lineman drafted

Johnson comes in with a 60% implied probability to be the first offensive lineman drafted due, in large part, to his massive frame and long arms — tools you just can’t coach. Although Johnson was an outstanding player in his lone season playing tackle, he didn’t garner any overly impressive grades. On true pass sets, Johnson earned just a 73.1 grade, a number scouts would expect to be a bit higher for someone who could be the first offensive linemen off the board.

On the other hand, Skoronski comes in with the opposite profile for a prospect, as he has amazing tape but limited physical tools. Skoronski stepped in for Rashawn Slater at Northwestern and produced phenomenally. Last season, Skoronski led all tackles in the country in PFF pass blocking grade (93.0). The concerns surrounding Skoronski’s arm length have hurt his stock, but his tape is as solid as they come.

BET: Peter Skoronski (+200)

First defensive player drafted

This would have been a closer call if only talent on the field were under consideration, but that’s not how this thing works. Off-the-field issues and questionable workouts during the pre-draft process have rendered this a foregone conclusion. Carter would have been vying for this honor if not for some errors in judgment this offseason that have led some teams to reconsider. 

Anderson is the safest defensive player to come off the board, and many expect that to happen in the top-five picks. With all things considered, this isn’t a market with much value. 

BET: Will Anderson Jr. (-600)

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