NFL betting: Bettors like Will Levis to be first overall pick of the draft
While the NFL season might be over, the intrigue really never stops. Derek Carr has already been released by the Las Vegas Raiders, Aaron Rodgers will likely be emerging from his dark hole soon to make a decision on his future and the franchise tag window opens this week, meaning we should know more about Lamar Jackson's immediate future in Baltimore.
The NFL scouting combine is next weekend. Free agency is in mid-March. The NFL Draft is just about two months away. Even the offseason is full of excitement, which is why this sport is so ingrained in our culture.
Over the last few weeks, bettors have been wagering on which player they think will be taken first overall in the NFL Draft. Bryce Young opened as the betting favorite, and he still maintains that honor. However, Young isn't the most popular bet. That honor belongs to another SEC quarterback.
Will Levis is most popular bet
The Chicago Bears currently own the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Of course, the Bears already have Justin Fields, who has shown signs of progress in his development since being drafted 11th overall in 2021. However, this current Bears regime isn't the same one that drafted Fields two years ago. Will Chicago continue to march on with Fields? Or will it trade Fields and draft a new franchise quarterback? If the Bears do decide to keep Fields, will they trade down, allowing a quarterback-needy team the opportunity to trade up?
In six of the last eight years, a quarterback was drafted with the first overall pick. Bryce Young is a current -120 favorite to be the first player taken.
The most popular bet to be drafted first overall, however, is currently Will Levis. Levis opened at 10-to-1, but his odds have come down to just +750. Overall, more than 22% of bets and nearly 35% of money is backing the Kentucky quarterback to be taken first.
Levis is a polarizing prospect. He's got the prototypical size at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds and has all of the traits desired in a young quarterback prospect, including a big arm and ability to move. The questions are around his lack of production. He ranked 59th in QBR among all college quarterbacks this past season. He did not eclipse 230 passing yards in any game against an SEC opponent on the season and only had one conference game with more than two touchdown passes. Kentucky's offense failed to score over 27 points in any conference game this season.
In two seasons at Kentucky, Levis threw for a combined 5,232 yards and 43 touchdowns. For comparison, over those same two seasons, Young threw for 8,200 yards and 79 touchdowns at Alabama. C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, the second-favorite to go first overall, threw for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns in his two seasons as starter in Columbus.
Levis' draft stock is getting a lot of comparisons to current Buffalo Bills starter Josh Allen. Allen struggled with accuracy at Wyoming and most that watched him play weren't overly impressed by his production. However, like Levis, Allen had the physical tools that popped off the page. The Bills have molded those tools into one of the very best quarterbacks in the league. Allen's success in the NFL is likely helping the Levis hype grow.
Anthony Richardson getting hype as well
Will Levis is not the only SEC quarterback to see his betting odds improve greatly over the last couple of weeks. Florida's Anthony Richardson opened at 100-to-1 to be the first player drafted, but those odds are down to 40-to-1. Richardson is currently the fourth-most popular bet at BetMGM, receiving 13% of bets.
Like Levis, Richardson is another polarizing quarterback prospect. He might be the best athlete in the draft and in terms of speed and running ability, nobody really compares. However, his work as a passer of the football leaves a lot to be desired.
The ups and downs in Richardson's game were seen firsthand in his last ever collegiate start for Florida against Florida State. Richardson completed just 9 of 27 passes, but on his nine completions, he had 198 passing yards and three touchdowns. He kept drives alive on the ground, adding 45 rushing yards. The Gators offense scored 38 points and he was electric all night making big plays, but it's also obvious he needs a lot of work.
First overall pick odds and bet percentage
Here's a list of players currently getting betting action at BetMGM to be the first player drafted come April:
Will Levis (+750, 22.2% of bets)
Bryce Young (-120, 15.9% of bets)
Jalen Carter (+600, 14.5% of bets)
Anthony Richardson (40-to-1, 13.0% of bets)
Will Anderson (+600, 12.6% of bets)
C.J. Stroud (+275, 9.7% of bets)
Myles Murphy (50-to-1, 4.3% of bets)
No other players have received more than 1% of bets or have odds better than 100-to-1.