Will Levis' odds to be first overall pick in NFL draft skyrocket overnight

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According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Will Levis' odds for becoming the first overall selection to the Carolina Panthers in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night have boomed from +4000 to +450 -- a dramatic shift that happened overnight.

According to Darren Rovell, another sportsbook has also updated the odds, in favor of Will Levis

What is going on? Are the Panthers suddenly falling in love with Will Levis at the last minute? Did something happen with Bryce Young? Is there some tomfoolery afoot meant to bamboozle everyone? It's probably shenanigans, but let's suspend disbelief and try to figure out what is going on with the sudden shift in odds.

We have known for a while that Bryce Young is the betting favorite to go first overall to Carolina, and he still is. But the odds for 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarterbacks selected have been pretty fluid as CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Levis could realistically be taken in any order. The only one of those three who have been rumored to dethrone Young as the first overall selection has been Stroud, but those talks have quieted lately. Instead, we have Will Levis with an insane leap in betting odds that literally happened overnight on Monday night.

Scott Fitterer is the general manager of the Carolina Panthers, who also happened to serve in the front office with the Seattle Seahawks when they drafted Russell Wilson in 2022. The obvious parallel between Wilson and Young is their size -- or lack thereof. The only knock on Young is his size, but that never stopped Wilson, Drew Brees or Kyler Murray from succeeding in the NFL. But perhaps Fitterer was talked out of Young, due to his smaller frame. Russell Wilson at least had some muscle mass and a sturdy frame, but Bryce Young only weighed in at 204 lbs, likely inflated by water weight. Also, there are reports saying head coach Frank Reich likes Will Levis. The two may have different ideas, and ultimately Reich's opinion could outweigh Fitterer's.

Alternatively, let's say the Panthers are scared off by Young's size at the last minute and are scrambling for the next best option. We know teams are already souring on CJ Stroud because of a reportedly comically low cognitive test result. The only two quarterbacks left at that point are Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. The Panthers could be panicking -- knowing they traded away a king's random for this first overall pick. And you don't trade up to the first pick to not select a quarterback.

The issue with Anthony Richardson is, by all accounts, he is not day-one ready. He's got the traits, the size, the athleticism, and the arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. But it won't be 2023, it may not be 2024, and he may end up needing two to three years as a redshirt backup to truly unlock his potential. Do the Panthers, who are quietly building a nice roster, want to wait two to three years to get their quarterback?

The only option left at this point is Kentucky's Will Levis. He's a decent prospect with a cannon for an arm, good athleticism, but most importantly, has excellent size and a big frame. Perhaps Carolina thinks his flaws are coachable, whereas size, lack of cognitive ability, and long-term development are not. The Panthers could have flustered themselves into actually going with Will Levis with the first overall selection. After all, they traded up to number one and can take whoever they want -- they aren't obligated to take whoever is everyone else's number one prospect. Maybe they know Levis won't last past Indianapolis at the fourth pick and value him high enough to take him three spots higher.

Ultimately, betting odds determine absolutely nothing. And even if you do put a lot of stock into the odds, Bryce Young is still currently the favorite to go first overall. It is interesting to watch how the odds shift as we approach Thursday, but it is peak smokescreen season and teams may want to give off a false narrative to throw other teams off. Although it is worth noting that the day leading up to the draft last year, Travon Walker's odds skyrocketed when we all assumed Aiden Hutchinson would be the first pick. The Jaguars did end up drafting Walker.

Do I think Will Levis has a legitimate shot to be the first overall pick? Absolutely not. But do I think it's fun to speculate and witness the madness of the NFL Draft materialize? You bet. That is the fun and the reason for the aura of the draft -- we never quite know what to expect. When Carolina is on the clock on Thursday night, they'll take the entire ten minutes -- even if they know who they are going to pick. It's a tradition that some don't like, but this Thursday night, we all will be waiting in suspense the entire ten minutes to see if Carolina actually does the unthinkable.