2023 NFL Draft: Where Is the Value With the 2nd and 3rd Overall Picks?

The 2023 NFL Draft seems to be splitting the views of experts more than usual. How should we rank the top quarterbacks? Is Will Anderson a better defender to build around than Jalen Carter? Is Peter Skoronski a better offensive lineman than Paris Johnson Jr? Plus, there are disagreements on the best wide receiver and tight end as well.

About the only thing people agree on is that Bijan Robinson is the top running back, and no one should draft him that high because he is a running back.

But something that is starting to clear up in the odds found at top-rated sportsbooks is that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is now expected to go No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers after they traded up from No. 9 to get that coveted first pick. Young, as the No. 1 overall pick, is -1400 at some books and -1200 at others.

If we assume Young to Carolina at No. 1 is a done deal, then what is the best course of action for the No. 2 and No. 3 picks for both bettors and the teams currently holding those picks? We have devised a draft and betting strategy for both.

No. 2 Pick: Houston Texans

The Houston Texans looked like they would earn the No. 1 pick all year before beating the Colts in Week 18, allowing the Bears to slide into that No. 1 spot before Chicago made the trade with Carolina.

Now the Texans could get the second quarterback off the board or do something absolutely shocking.

The Best Value at No. 2

If new head coach DeMeco Ryans is going to have any success in this stint, he is going to have to get a quarterback. Davis Mills is not the answer, and in the quarterback-loaded AFC, the Texans cannot possibly go into another season with a placeholder at the most important position.

But there has been this rumor gaining steam that the Texans are going to bypass a quarterback at No. 2 and come back later for that player. In reality, their best move would be to take C.J. Stroud out of Ohio State.

He has the arm talent and consistency to be a threat, and he can start Week 1. He is more polished than Will Levis, and he is way more prepared for this than someone like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker would be later in the draft.

There is a negative stigma surrounding Ohio State quarterbacks in the NFL, but some people still love Justin Fields even though Stroud has a higher ceiling as a passer of the football.

If the Texans cannot get Young, then Stroud is the next-best option.

Defense First at No. 2

The other risky but plausible move is for Houston to use the No. 2 pick on Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson, long considered the best edge in this draft class. This is a franchise that had J.J. Watt star for years, and Anderson will probably be the closest thing this draft can produce to a player of that caliber.

The Texans certainly need the defensive help too, but this still leaves a big hole at quarterback that the No. 12 pick they hold seems unlikely to fulfill.

Will Levis and Anthony Richardson will almost certainly be gone before then, and the idea of trading back up into the top five just seems silly.

If the Texans do in fact skip a quarterback at No. 2, then it really has to be Anderson as the pick here. He is the cleanest, most impactful prospect on defense in a class that does not have a juggernaut wide receiver prospect or sure thing at left tackle.

No. 3 Pick: Arizona Cardinals

With just over a week before the draft to go, the Arizona Cardinals are still holding on to the No. 3 pick.

Many assume this is a pick that will be traded since the Cardinals are going to go through rehab with Kyler Murray after his torn ACL and not select one of the quarterbacks. That limits the options of who the Cardinals would take with this pick if they do not trade it.

The Best Value at No. 3

Not to beat the J.J. Watt dead horse, but it is interesting that the Texans and Cardinals could be the main teams competing over taking Anderson, who was often considered the top defender in this class. The Texans and Cardinals, of course, were Watt’s teams in the NFL.

By retiring from Arizona, Watt leaves a big hole that Anderson could slide into in 2023 for this defense.

But if the Texans already take Anderson at No. 2, then that is really going to shake things up for Arizona, which would be better off trading the pick to a team dying for one of the quarterbacks and to get ahead of the Colts at No. 4.

Smartest Move: Trade the Pick

If Arizona is not going with Anderson or a quarterback, then it really needs to do whatever it can to trade the pick. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is a decent prospect in most years, but he has some serious off-field issues to get over with a deadly car accident in January.

This is an Arizona franchise that already has some bad press about players and personnel doing dangerous things behind the wheel.

Carter also could be a questionable prospect as that Georgia defense was absolutely loaded in winning back-to-back national championships. No one is going to confuse him for Aaron Donald.

The Cardinals need to find a trade partner who will be head over heels for Stroud if he is available, or to steal Anthony Richardson or Will Levis at No. 3 before the Colts make their likely quarterback pick at No. 4. For that matter, the Colts could even try moving up one spot with Arizona just to make sure they get their guy.

It felt like Arizona always held the key to making the top of this draft most interesting, but that can be off the table if the Texans surprise us first and bypass a quarterback at No. 2.

Conclusion: Expect the Unexpected

It feels like a long time since the top of an NFL draft has been this unpredictable this close to draft night.

In a perfect NFL world next Thursday night:

  1. The Panthers take Bryce Young at No. 1, giving the NFC another legitimate franchise quarterback to battle with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia.
  2. The Texans take C.J. Stroud at No. 2, adding another talented quarterback to the AFC field.
  3. The Cardinals take Will Anderson at No. 3, providing the defense with a cornerstone for the next decade.
  4. The Colts take Anthony Richardson at No. 4, giving new coach Shane Steichen a dual threat to develop like he did Hurts in Philadelphia.
  5. Someone not pleased with their long-term quarterback situation takes Will Levis very high with possibilities ranging from the Seahawks (Geno Smith), Lions (Jared Goff), Raiders (Jimmy Garoppolo), and Commanders (Sam Howell).

But like most drafts, some of these players will not pan out in the NFL. The teams that avoided the quarterback craze will get credit for evaluating the class well.

But if you are not trying to get a starting quarterback or elite defender at the top of this 2023 class, then you are not getting good value out of that pick.

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