The 2023 NFL Draft, or at least the buzz surrounding it, is different from recent years. Texas running back Bijan Robinson is viewed as one of the best players in the draft despite playing one of the NFL's most devalued positions. Teams on first-round wide receivers: TCU wide receiver is 6-foot-3, weighs around 210 pounds, runs about a 4.5 40-yard dash, and was one of the . Yet, he wasn't in Kansas City.
No one seems to have a strong read on what the Houston Texans are going to do with the No. 2 overall pick, despite needing a quarterback and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud seeming like the obvious choice. Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. is one of the most sure-thing prospects overall at a premium position, edge rusher, and he might fall out of the top three.
Those make up four of the most interesting propositions. Here's a closer look at those odds, courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook, and what they could mean for the draft that begins Thursday evening.
Bijan Robinson is going to be the first RB selected inside the top 20 since 2018
Robinson draft position O/U: 15.5
Over: +220 Under: -275
There have only been nine running backs selected in the first 20 picks of an NFL Draft since 2010. There haven't been any such running backs since the 2018 NFL Draft, when the Giants took Saquon Barkley second overall. Bijan Robinson is special enough to warrant such a selection, and he may even sneak into the back end of the top 10: Looking at you, Falcons (owners of the eighth overall pick) and Eagles (owners of the 10th overall pick).
Robinson led the NCAA with 113 tackles avoided in 2022, the most by an FBS player in the last five seasons. He's an every-down back who can be a true weapon as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He's one of the best prospects in this draft, regardless of position, which is why people can't currently get plus-money odds on him going inside the top 15. The truly special running backs can be valuable for their teams with the right offensive game-plan. Robinson is special and his draft position in a league tilted toward passing will reflect that.
Teams aren't high on WR class, which could lead to late first-round steals like Quentin Johnston
Johnston draft position O/U: 26.5
Over: -160 Under: +130
The 2022 NFL Draft had six wide receivers selected in the opening round: Drake London (eighth overall by the Falcons), Garrett Wilson (10th overall by the Jets), Chris Olave (11th overall by the Saints), Jameson Williams (12th overall by the Lions), Jahan Dotson (16th overall by the Commanders) and Treylon Burks (18th overall by the Titans).
This year, it appears the first round will have a max of four: Ohio State's, Boston College's , USC's Jordan Addison, and TCU's . Johnston's case is particularly intriguing considering he's this class' most athletically-gifted pass-catcher. Yet, the plus-money bet is on him to go earlier than the back end of the first round as Johnston's camp told he's received feedback from the league that he will come off the board in the "20-28" pick range.
Johnston and Smith-Njigba's trainer David Robinson, who also trains a number of top NFL wideouts like Tyreek Hill and Deebo Samuel, explained to CBS Sports why Johnston is worthy of being the first receiver selected.
"Jaxon's [Smith-Njigba] from Texas [Rockwall specifically], so I've had a chance to work with him before quite a bit," Robinson. "I worked with him this past year as well. So I've seen him in person about as much as Q, but I definitely think with what Q has done up to this point that he should be the first receiver taken. That's because you have guys who are six feet, 5-11 running low 4.5's [40-yard dash times] and high 4.4's, but Q is doing it at 212-215 pounds at 6-3. He moves just as well as some of those guys in and out of his cuts. He still needs some fine-tuning, but his catch radius, how well he sinks his hips out of his breaks, he's a harder tackle for defensive backs to bring down as opposed to some of those other guys projected to be up there with him."
"You're getting a guy [in Johnston] who has elite feet versus press [man] coverage," Robinson continued (Johnston has said Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams is his inspiration for his footwork to get off the line of scrimmage). "He [Johnston] has elite ability to get untangled at the top of his stop routes and win at the top of contested catches against defensive backs. You're getting an elite runner after the catch. There are receivers that run and catch and then you have receivers who can catch and run. He's a guy that can catch and run. He's a guy who is going to be hard to bring down."
Quentin Johnston and Jaxon Smith-Njigba measurables*
* Combine numbers; 40-yard dash times are from Pro days; ** Unofficial Pro Day time
While many NFL teams may not be as high on Johnston as his traits and abilities would indicate they should be, there's good chance at least one team realizes his potential and takes him on the earlier side of that 20-28 range.
Texans are the 2023 draft's potential chaos team
The odds for what the Texans are going to do with the second overall pick reflect the lack of insight into what they are going to do after the Carolina Panthers first overall. New Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans went out of his way to rave about , indicating he is the player Houston wishes it could take. Since he likely won't be an option, it would make sense to go with Ohio State passer C.J. Stroud, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist who shredded the back-to-back national champion's defense in the Buckeyes' narrow 42-41 loss in the College Football Playoff Semifinals: 348 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and no interceptions on 23-of-34 passing.
Despite Stroud's extensive collegiate production -- his 85 passing touchdowns are the most in a two-year span in Big Ten Conference history -- he only has the fourth-best odds to go second overall. He trails Kentucky's Will Levis, who might be the fourth-best quarterback prospect in this class, and two defensive players: Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. It doesn't make any sense, given the Texans should be pursuing the best quarterback available after Davis Mills co-led the NFL in interceptions in his second NFL season.
2023 NFL Draft second overall pick odds
Will Anderson Jr.
Even though the Texans said they're "Colts thinking they'll be able to get a QB they really like without trading up. In the end, getting +450 odds for Stroud to go second overall feels like stealing because if Houston does end up trading the pick, the new team picking at this spot would likely be taking him. Plus, Stroud makes the most sense for the Texans too." to trade offers for the pick, that feels unrealistic given the caliber of player available at that draft slot and how much they need more blue-chip talent. Perhaps this is all a smokescreen to get their division rival
Will Anderson Jr.'s fate of being top-three pick hinges on Cardinals' new GM
Anderson Jr. draft position O/U: 3.5
Over: -200 Under: +160
During his three college football seasons from 2020-2022, Anderson totaled 207 quarterback pressures, 71 quarterback hits, 58.5 tackles for loss, and 34.5 sacks. Do you know what all of those stats have in common? They all rank as the most in the nation since the 2020 season. Anderson Jr. is one of the best edge rushing prospects in the last five to 10 years, so naturally he would be a lock to go top five right? Not necessarily. The Panthers are going QB after trading up from nine to one, the Texans should go QB at two, the Cardinals are undergoing a rebuild around quarterback Kyler Murray with new head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort, and the Colts are going QB at four.
If the Cardinals don't trade down with a quarterback-hungry franchise to stockpile additional picks throughout the draft, Anderson Jr. like goes within the top three, thus the under hitting on his draft position at plus-money. However, if the Cardinals trade out, quarterbacks will likely be selected with the first four picks. The under isn't an awful gamble if the Cardinals end up not being wowed by other teams trade-up proposals.