2023 NFL Draft Odds: Why CJ Stroud is a smart bet to go No. 2 overall

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CJ Stroud now a great value bet to go No. 2 on April 27 

The 2023 NFL Draft has provided football fans and bettors with all sorts of drama. It all started when the Chicago Bears traded the first pick in the draft to the Carolina Panthers. After that deal, there was a lot of buzz about Carolina targeting Ohio State superstar CJ Stroud. However, things have taken a crazy turn since. Alabama’s Bryce Young is now a -1400 favorite to be the top pick in the draft, and Will Anderson, Will Levis and Tyree Wilson have all jumped Stroud in the odds to be selected second. There are rumblings that the Texans aren’t very interested in the former Buckeyes quarterback, but that makes Stroud a great value bet to be picked second — he’s +300 to go there at DraftKings Sportsbook right now. Keep reading to find out why.

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Even if the Texans don’t like Stroud, the team must make sure that it properly values its own asset. Chicago got a massive haul in exchange for the first pick, with the Bears acquiring wide receiver DJ Moore, the ninth and 61st picks in this year’s draft, a first-round pick in 2024 and a second-round pick in 2025. Of course, at this point it’s fair to say that teams value Young more than they do Stroud. But you’d have to think that a quarterback-friendly team out there would be willing to give up some picks in order to move up and grab the second-best quarterback in this class.

It wasn’t long ago that Young was hanging out there at plus-money odds to go first overall, and it’s clear now that it was a mistake. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be shocking if we’re looking at Stroud’s plus-money odds as a mistake in a couple of days. All year long, Stroud was viewed as the second-best quarterback prospect in this draft, and it’s hard to put a lot of weight into what has happened over the last couple of weeks. There hasn’t been any football played for any of these prospects, so why have things changed so much?

It seems like the markets have strongly reacted to mock drafts and reports, but does any of that stuff matter? NFL teams think nothing like draft analysts, which is why the most accurate mock drafts are filled with incorrect predictions. Our very own Michael Lombardi has real front office experience and constantly says that you can’t trust mock drafts and reporting at this time of the year.

Houston sports analyst Lance Zierlein’s reporting on Stroud on The Athletic Football Show seemed to really move these markets. He noted that Houston isn’t that high on Stroud and that the team might not want to work with Stroud’s agent, who also represents Deshaun Watson. However, while everybody is willing to trust Zierlein’s reports that the Texans don’t like Stroud, they seem to have glossed over the fact that Houston is taking calls on the pick. If he’s as plugged in as people think, that’s very significant.

If you bet on Stroud to go second in the draft, you’re only betting on him to go in that slot. It doesn’t matter which team picks him. With that said, you’re getting a very good price on Stroud to go second. At one point, Stroud was such a heavy favorite to go first that the odds were untouchable. Now, he’s arguably the most valuable prospect outside of Young and teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans are all in need of franchise quarterbacks.

Overall, there’s just a lot of smoke out there right now and it’s important to think with a level head at this time of year. You would have been ecstatic if you could have had Stroud at +300 to go second a couple of weeks ago. So, why not just take it and wait for the next line of reporting to come out? A trade would swing these odds in the other direction completely. And you never know whether it’s smoke coming out of Houston or not. Maybe the Texans like Stroud more than they’re letting on.

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