NFL Draft Odds: USC QB Caleb Williams Huge Favorite To Be First Pick

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
nfl draft odds

The last scraps of red and gold confetti were just swept off the turf at Allegiant Stadium as the national focus shifts to the 2024 NFL Draft. Sportsbooks already posted odds for the first overall draft pick. USC quarterback Caleb Williams (-900) is a heavy favorite to go first overall. While there are no guarantees in sports betting – no matter what your Twitter replies might suggest – it would truly be a shock to sportsbooks if the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner didn’t come off the board first. But where does that confidence come from? Is there a world where someone else goes No. 1?

Keep up to date with NFL Draft odds here at TheLines. The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

NFL Draft Odds: First Overall Pick Favorites

Compare odds for the first overall pick from the best NFL betting sites below. Favorites with odds shorter than 50-1 are listed below.

Note: DraftKings Sportsbook offers Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy (+2500) and Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+4000). Both players are longer than 100-1 at the other sportsbooks and were omitted from the table.

Looking for complete NFL Draft odds?

Caleb Williams Heavy Favorite To Go No. 1

Since bursting onto the scene as a freshman at Oklahoma, Williams was tagged as a future first-overall pick. That steam picked up as he moved with Lincoln Riley to USC and won the 2022 Heisman Trophy. If 2024 NFL Draft odds were posted in January 2023, Williams likely would have been no longer than -5000. However, a rocky campaign with the Trojans last fall shook the confidence a bit.

Williams operated off-script more, many times to the detriment of the play. The comparisons to Patrick Mahomes appeared to have broken through to Williams, who preferred to pass up first reads in the system to try and create long, highlight-worthy touchdowns. He succeeded – thanks to an uncanny mix of mobility, size, arm strength, and improvisational skills held by no one else in college football – but sometimes it led to disaster. The possibility that Williams continues not to take what the defense gives him in the NFL, especially behind a potentially bad offensive line, began creeping into draft analyses.

Currently, the Chicago Bears own the No. 1 pick, courtesy of the Panthers. Justin Fields is still the young face of the Bears, although many rumors indicate Field could be shipped off. Other reports say the Bears are listening to trade offers for the pick, although it would take a “historic haul.”

Teams in the mix could include the Washington Commanders (No. 2) and New England Patriots (No. 3).

Could Maye, Daniels, McCarthy Jump Williams?

Looking only at FanDuel Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook odds suggest that the answer is probably not. However, DraftKings offers much shorter odds for North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+475), LSU QB Jayden Daniels (+1500), and even Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy (+2500).

Maye is consistently ranked the No. 2 QB and overall prospect this draft cycle. Should he stick at that number, he’s projected to land in D.C. next season. Daniels made a huge jump this season, securing the 2023 Heisman Trophy. Once seen as a quarterback only poised to succeed in college, he quickly climbed into Round 1 discussions. FOX’s Jay Glazer tabbed Daniels as a “bonafide first-round pick” back in December. However, as we see each year, physical stature matters to NFL front offices and his slender 210-pound frame at 6-foot-4 might affect his stock.

That leaves McCarthy, a true longshot at some books to go first overall (+10000). Draftniks have spent the better part of the winter praising McCarthy’s talent and leadership, many cementing him as a top pick. His biggest boost comes from his college head coach, Jim Harbaugh, who predicted McCarthy would be the first QB off the board. Of course, this can be chalked up to Harbaugh being the ultimate supporter for any of his players in maize and blue.

At this point in the draft cycle, it would be a true shock for anyone to jump Caleb Williams.

Follow the information

A common fallacy when betting on NFL Draft odds comes down to personal assessment. Discourse litters social media about which player is “better” and oftentimes equates to, “this player will be drafted first.” But, like award betting, personal assessment just doesn’t matter. What matters is the assessment of owners like David Tepper and GMs like Ryan Poles. Ultimately, those are the guys making the call (as we saw last year with Bryce Young to the Panthers).

For the next 75 days, misinformation and misdirects will dominate TV headlines. Intentional smoke screens leaked by NFL teams themselves to top reporters like Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport will garner plenty of attention.

Know your sources. Draftniks like Matt Miller hold much more valuable information than your Schefters in this space. Just last year, Miller had one single report linking the Seahawks to Devon Witherspoon with the fifth pick, almost entirely lost in the shuffle. Sportsbooks listed Witherspoon at 20-1 to go there, not in tune with Miller’s report. Witherspoon would go No. 5 to Seattle.

While currently the other quarterbacks are unlikely to jump Williams, keep an ear to the ground for reports on Maye and Daniels. Currently, there’s lots of value picking the 2023 Heisman winner to go second overall, even if the team drafting there might not be the Commanders.

Connect The Dots

Barring a team outwardly announcing their intentions (which we’ve seen before with Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow), you’re likely going to have to draw your own conclusions when betting the NFL Draft. Oftentimes, reports imply something.

Given the “historic haul” report (which may have been sent to Rapoport by the Bears), it’s clear teams are vying for a player, not a pick. Should there be a large sum paid up for the No. 1 overall pick, that team is likely trading for Caleb Williams, not the pick itself.

Should Washington or another suitor fork over multiple picks and players for that top spot, it’s not to mull over the choice of Williams, Maye, Daniels, or McCarthy. If Washington liked a few options, they’d stay put at two. If a team outside the top three wanted one of those QBs, they’d take a cheaper pick. A team trading up to No. 1 nearly cements Williams as the target.

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