What the gambling odds tell us about the NFL draft and who the Lions might pick

Detroit Free Press

Vegas always knows something. Or at least that’s how the old saying goes.

The NFL draft kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. and some experts are saying things could get weird. Early Thursday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on Twitter one NFL general manager told him “It’s the most unpredictable draft in forever.”

With all that uncertainty, one place you can always turn is the oddsmakers.

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Here is what you can learn from taking a look at the odds, props, and other bets available for the NFL draft Thursday.

The draft starts after Bryce Young

For all of the uncertainty that there is in the draft overall, the general consensus seems to be you can cross former Alabama star and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young off your draft board with the No. 1 overall pick.

FanDuel Sportsbook has Young as -5000 to be picked first overall, meaning if you wagered $100 on him to go No. 1, you would win $2. Back in March, the Panthers decided enough is enough with the post-Cam Newton quarterback carousel. They traded with the Bears for the No. 1 overall pick and gave up this year’s first-round selection at No. 9, a second-round pick in 2023, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick, plus star wide receiver D.J. Moore. Panthers coach Frank Reich even said this week there is a “consensus” for who they are taking at No. 1, seemingly confirming reports and the gambling odds indicating Young will be the first player selected.

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So what happens next?

This is where it gets a little dicey. The Houston Texans have picks Nos. 2 and 12 in the first round, so a lot of what happens after Young falls on them. As of Thursday, FanDuel Sportsbook has Will Anderson, another Alabama star, as the favorite to go No. 2 at -250. DraftKings Sportsbook has Anderson at -350, meaning they think it’s even more likely Anderson lands with the Texans.

Also of note — the Texans seemingly don’t have a quarterback of the future. That’s why CJ Stroud, the former Ohio State star, is currently the second favorite to go No. 2, at +450. Tyree Wilson, the edge rusher from Texas Tech, is +900. All in all, it seems like Anderson is the pick at No. 2.

Cardinals looking to trade

The Arizona Cardinals currently hold the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, but have reportedly been keen on trading that selection. ESPN reporter Diana Russini said Thursday morning the Cardinals “are currently mulling trade offers from multiple teams interested in moving to No. 3 overall.”

That makes a lot of sense because the Cardinals recently signed quarterback Kyler Murray to a mega-extension, and DraftKings and FanDuel both have Stroud listed as the favorite to go at No. 3 at + 100 and +125, respectively.

Based on these odds, expect a trade up for a quarterback at No. 3.

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Colts will likely select a quarterback

Similar to the Panthers, it seems that the Colts are done playing the quarterback guessing game. FanDuel has three quarterbacks as the heavy favorites to be taken at No. 4. Kentucky’s Will Levis is +100, former Florida quarterback (and combine breakout star) Anthony Richardson is +200, and Stroud is +270.

If these odds hold up, that means three quarterbacks would go in the first four picks.

Who will the Seahawks leave for the Lions?

While the Seahawks could potentially take another quarterback at No. 5, the oddsmakers seem to think Georgia star defender (and potential Lions target) Jalen Carter is the pick. Carter is currently -180 to be selected at No. 5, with Richardson second — and way behind at +500.

Barring a trade or a mindset change, it seems like Carter will be selected before the Lions have to make the tough choice.

MORE ON JALEN CARTER: ‘I feel l could have worked harder’ at Georgia

Finally … who can we expect the Lions to take?

Just like Detroit Free Press Lions beat writer Dave Birkett, oddsmakers seem to think feisty Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon will be heading to Detroit with the No. 6 pick.

Witherspoon is currently -200 on FanDuel to be selected No. 6 overall. Carter has the second lowest odds at +600, followed by Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at +1000, another cornerback.

Those clamoring for the Lions to select a quarterback here will be disappointed to see that no quarterback even made the top five from oddsmakers. Stroud is +1600 on FanDuel to be selected by the Lions and +1000 on DraftKings. The other five players in front of Stroud are all defenders.

Unless there is a major upset, expect to see Witherspoon wearing Honolulu Blue this fall.

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Other notes

Using prop bets is an interesting way to get an idea of how many picks there will be at each position.

DraftKings has set the over-under for defensive players selected in the first round at 14.5 (out of 31 picks), meaning they expect more offensive players to be taken than defensive players. The number of defensive backs expected to be selected in the first round is set at 5.5.

The over-under for quarterbacks has been set at 4.5 for the first round. For the over to hit on that, Young, Stroud, Levis, Richardson, and potentially Hendon Hooker, the Tennessee breakout who tore his ACL, would all have to be selected. DraftKings has that set at -130, meaning they think it’s more likely than not.

Lastly, there’s the polarizing position of running back. While everyone recognizes how important a good running back can be, there is a lot of debate on whether it’s a spot worth spending a first round pick on. As of Thursday morning, DraftKings has set the over-under at 1.5 running backs selected in the first round. That would likely mean Bijan Robinson of Texas and Jahmyr Gibbs of Alabama would be taken.

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