NFL Draft: Will Ohio State QB CJ Stroud Be Picked First Overall?

Written By Brett Gibbons on March 8, 2023
CJ Stroud NFL Draft odds

Three quarterbacks have dominated the conversation to be picked first overall, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. Through the steam and rumors, one QB remains steady in NFL Draft odds to be the No. 1 pick – Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. The two-time Heisman finalist has +330 odds to be the first pick at DraftKings Sportsbook, second-shortest to Young.

Is there a realistic possibility that Stroud is the first player taken in 2023 NFL Draft odds? Here are the latest information and reports.

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Which Team Will Draft First Overall?

To figure out who will be drafted first overall, we first have to solve who will be drafting first overall. Currently, the Chicago Bears hold the first overall draft pick, but it’s widely believed they will trade the pick.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer spoke to Bears GM Ryan Poles about the first overall pick at the NFL Combine. “So given all that, what are the chances that the pick will actually get moved?” Breer asked Poles.

“Strong. Over 50%.” Poles responded.

According to NBC’s Peter King in a separate sit-down with Poles, “it’s clear [Poles is] not trading [Justin] Fields, and he’s not picking a quarterback high in this draft.”

A few obvious teams may land the No. 1 overall pick – the Colts, Texans, Seahawks and Panthers – but the Poles revealed a team, “further back” inquired about the pick. The Commanders and Jets jump out as possibilities in that instance, with an outside shot at the Ravens should they not match an offer made to Lamar Jackson.

The favorite among draft media currently is the Colts. However, Mike Sando of The Athletic reported that an NFL GM believes the Bears are more likely to trade their pick to the Panthers.

CJ Stroud NFL Draft Odds

According to odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, Young is the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 at -170. Those odds dipped a bit from over -200 throughout much of the NFL Draft cycle.

They also offer odds on player-specific props, notably the team to draft Florida’s Anthony Richardson. While his rapidly-shortening odds to be drafted first overall halted around +600 at FanDuel, the Panthers are currently favored to pick Richardson at +340. This price seemingly is under the assumption that Carolina pulls the trigger at pick No. 9 rather than trading up.

While Richardson’s odds plummeted in response to new mock drafts, Stroud’s odds to be picked first grew. At least, at other sportsbooks. FanDuel never really wavered on his odds.

To be the first QB drafted, Stroud’s odds drop to +275 at DraftKings Sportsbook. The prices differ a bit since there’s still a world that exists in which the Bears don’t trade the first pick and go with a non-QB like Will Anderson. But given the information Poles gave out at the Combine, a QB is going first, just not to Chicago.

Will CJ Stroud Be Drafted First Overall?

There’s no perfect QB prospect in this draft. Part of the reason why there’s no consensus No. 1 is that each QB has some serious concern to their game. For Young, it’s his height (he measured in at 5-foot-10 at the Combine). Richardson is a freak of nature, but completed just 53% of his passes in 2022 and failed to improve his completion percentage or yards per attempt from 2021. Levis’ tape from 2022 is frequently being asked to be “thrown out.”

Stroud had concerns around his off-platform throws and ability to move, but those were soundly put to bed after games against Michigan and Georgia. At 6-foot-3, Stroud has the ideal frame and his game improved throughout the 2022 season.

He wowed scouts at the Combine with some of the best throws of the QB group. Richardson dominated the headlines with a 4.43 40-yard dash, but Stroud impressed in the quarterback drills.

Ultimately, Stroud is the safest QB prospect in the draft. Of the group, he rated highest in EPA per pass (fifth nationally). But, NFL front offices time and time again have proven they often draft for upside. With comparisons being drawn between Young and Russell Wilson and Richardson and Cam Newton, there’s a real narrative that either of those two are more likely top picks.

Just because Stroud checks in as the safest QB among the group doesn’t mean he’s the first overall pick. Remember, betting the NFL Draft is betting on team decisions over player projections.

“I think he’s the second-best QB in this draft, and really might be 1-B to Bryce Young,” Matt Miller told Dan Patrick. “CJ Stroud has the arm talent. We know now he has the mobility. He definitely has the football IQ. He throws the best ball of any of these quarterbacks.”

Teams Most, Least Likely To Draft CJ Stroud

Sportsbooks haven’t released team-specific odds for Stroud yet. However, some first overall suitors have been more linked to Stroud than others. For example, the Panthers have been more strongly linked to Richardson. The Colts and Raiders have occasionally been linked to Levis and the Texans are tied to Young be it first or second overall.

ESPN’s Todd McShay released his post-Combine mock draft, sending Young to the Colts first overall and Stroud to the Texans second overall. Mel Kiper had the Texans trade up to first to take Young and Stroud went second to the Colts.

However, other outlets like The Draft Network featured Stroud going later to the Seahawks.

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons