On Thursday night, the top college football prospects will hear their names called in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. More rumors and leads circulated this draft cycle than most in recent memory, many of which drastically changed betting markets for the event.
The Cincinnati Bengals pick 28th after being the AFC runners-up. The Cleveland Browns don’t make their first selection until Pick 74 in the third round after trading away their first two picks for Deshaun Watson (12 overall) and Elijah Moore (42 overall). Below, we’ll look at NFL Draft odds and needs for both of Ohio’s NFL teams.
Ohio sportsbooks have odds available, with more options likely to hit the market ahead of Round 1 of the NFL Draft, which begins 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27. Watch the action unfold on ESPN all weekend long.
Cincinnati Bengals 2023 NFL Draft odds
According to bet365 Sportsbook Ohio, the Bengals are most likely to draft a tight end with their first pick (+150). Other likely options are cornerback (+200) and offensive lineman (+350). According to the betting market, two tight ends are likely to be picked in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, with those top two choices being Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) and Dalton Kincaid (Utah).
Mayer’s over/under prop for his draft position sits at 21.5 (Over -225). With teams like the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and Buffalo Bills all selecting ahead of the Bengals, it’s unlikely that Mayer falls to 28. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Mayer was the favorite to be picked over Kincaid in a head-to-head market.
Bet365 lines Kincaid’s draft position at 24.5 (Over -130). Combine that prop with the two tight ends in Round 1 and the Bengals’ first draft position props, and Kincaid is the player sportsbooks imply will be their pick at No. 28.
Two first-round cornerbacks are expected to come off the board in the mid-first round: Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Deonte Banks (Maryland). (Note: Alabama’s Brian Branch is listed as a corner in betting markets but played safety in college.) However, both Porter’s and Banks’ draft position props suggest they’ll be off the board before Cincinnati gets to them.
Clues from Bengals pre-draft meetings
The Bengals met with four cornerbacks in their top-30 prospect meetings, but none are projected as first-rounders. Teams often pick players that did not meet with during the offseason, so corner is certainly not off the board for Cincinnati at Pick 28.
Notably, both Mayer and Kincaid took top-30 visits with the Bengals. Cincinnati also hosted multiple linebackers and defensive ends in the pre-draft process, as well as several offensive linemen.
When looking at top-30 visits for NFL teams, rather than getting hung up on the names they met with, it’s fruitful to focus on the position. Oftentimes, teams use these visits to make decisions on players they’re on the fence about. For the Bengals, the meetings could suggest they’re not sold on either Mayer or Kincaid over the other choice.
Who will be the Bengals’ choice in Round 1 of the NFL Draft?
Kincaid seems like the likeliest choice at Pick 28. After Hayden Hurst left for the Carolina Panthers, the Bengals signed Minnesota Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. While Smith Jr. appears to be a solid replacement, the Bengals only signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million deal for the upcoming season. Notably, he missed all of the 2021 season and most of the back end of the 2022 season with injury. He’s a talent pass catcher but has struggled to stay on the field.
Aside from Kincaid and Mayer, Darnell Washington is a name to note. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound Georgia product ran a blistering 4.64 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and exhibits superhuman-like athletic ability. At Georgia, he was vastly overshadowed by Brock Bowers, a 2024 NFL prospect that will likely rank as one of the top tight end prospects ever.
Should Kincaid and Mayer both come off the board earlier than Pick 28, the Bengals might pick Washington.
Cleveland Browns 2023 draft strategy
As mentioned, the Browns don’t have a pick until well into Round 3 on Saturday. They pick 74th, which came as a pick swap in the Moore trade with the Jets. As a result, sportsbooks did not post NFL Draft odds for the Browns.
The most pressing needs for Cleveland this draft cycle include linebacker, interior defensive line, and running back. Last season, the Browns’ linebacking corps was decimated by injury. They re-signed both Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki this offseason, but will likely still address depth at the position.
The Browns also signed a pair of free agent defensive linemen, Dalvin Tomlinson from Minnesota and Ogbo Okoronkwo from Houston. Depth is also a concern on the defensive line, so expect Cleveland to draft at least one player up front.
The Browns’ running back room went from one of the league’s best to extremely thin. The team let Kareem Hunt walk, and D’Ernest Johnson signed with the Jaguars this offseason. Behind bell cow Nick Chubb is Jerome Ford, a second-year back from Cincinnati, and John Kelly Jr., a fringe 53-man roster player. This year’s running back class is exceedingly deep, with later-round names like Zach Charbonnet (UCLA), Kenny McIntosh (Georgia), and Tyjae Spears (Tulane) being potential targets.
How to bet on the NFL Draft in Ohio
The Ohio Casino Control Commission approved NFL Draft betting, and it recently expanded its list of eligible NFL Draft wagers. NFL Draft betting options change from state to state and sportsbook to sportsbook, so bettors will need to shop around to find certain lines and the best odds.
DraftKings currently offers the widest range of betting options, including overall picks, team selections and over/unders in the first round. Other sportsbooks are also offering action: Bet365 released a statement touting its draft betting markets:
“The NFL Draft is upon us and we’re delighted to offer our customers a huge variety of betting markets ahead of Round 1 on Thursday. The draft has a huge following internationally, and with bet365’s global reach, we hope to play a small part in what could be a thrilling week of predictions, picks, trades and transfers.”
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