Sunday, February 25, 2024

NFL Draft No. 1 overall odds: Inside Anthony Richardson’s meteoric rise

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When BetMGM first posted its odds for which player would go No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was dealing as a 100/1 long shot. 

With just seven weeks before the draft, he’s +500 to be the first-overall pick.

And those odds are seemingly getting shorter by the day. 

It’s been a meteoric rise for the polarizing passer, who was largely viewed as a fringe first-round prospect when his collegiate season ended in November.

Yet his elite traits have long intrigued teams looking to make a big swing under center, and his stellar showing at the combine had many wondering aloud whether he was the best quarterback prospect in this draft. 

It’s easy to see the appeal. At 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds, Richardson has ideal size at the position to complement his eye-popping physical traits.

He’s also got a cannon arm with the ability to launch it 60 yards with ease, as he did multiple times at the combine and in his 13 starts at Florida. 

That’s to say nothing of his remarkable athleticism, which was on full display at Indianapolis.

Richardson set records for a quarterback in the vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches).

He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds — Cam Newton ran it in 4.59 seconds at the same weight in 2011 — and reached a top speed of 23.44 mph, faster than the in-game record set by Tyreek Hill (23.34 mph) in 2016. 

Anthony Richardson
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Make no mistake: Richardson is unlike any other player in this draft, and he seems like a lock to go in the top five at this point. But will he really go No. 1? 

Bettors sure seem to think so. While he opened at 100/1 to be the top pick, Richardson’s odds were slashed to 40/1 in the week before the combine.

He was dealing as short as +300 last Saturday after his combine performance, and he entered the week with 23.2 percent of all wagers on him to be the first overall pick — more than any other player on the board. 

Even with his stock skyrocketing each week, it all still feels exceedingly unlikely. 

As impressive as Richardson was at the combine, former Ohio State star C.J. Stroud wowed scouts with his accuracy and ball placement, with draftnik Daniel Jeremiah calling it one of the best throwing sessions he’d ever seen at the combine.

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It generated enough buzz for some to anoint Stroud as the QB1, even as folks cooed over Richardson’s outing. 

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young also helped his stock, checking in at 5-10 and 204 pounds — nearly identical to former top pick Kyler Murray.

While those measurables are clearly on the lighter side, they’re good enough to ease concerns from many scouts about his size, which was just about the only mark against the former Heisman Trophy winner after two prolific seasons in Tuscaloosa. 

With so many elite quarterbacks in this year’s class, it’s hard to completely overlook Richardson’s glaring accuracy issues in college when projecting him as the first passer off the board.

Bryce Young
Bryce Young
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And with the Bears likely auctioning off the top pick to the highest bidder, it’ll take a team with zero reservations about Richardson to pay such a steep price — especially when he’s likely to be available two or three picks later. 

If you bet him at 100/1 to go first overall, pat yourself on the back and buckle in for a wild month.

If you didn’t, there’s no sense chasing him at this price in the wake of his special combine performance, which still likely won’t be enough to propel him to the very top of the draft. 

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