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Best bet for first defensive player selected in 2023 NFL Draft

We break down which defensive player will be drafted first in the NFL Draft.

Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stands on the field during the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama Crimson Tide won the game 45 - 20. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET. As teams continue to narrow down their big board, it’s becoming more clear where some of the top prospects should land ahead of their rookie season. Will Anderson Jr. headlines this year’s list of defensive talent after Alabama’s All-American DE earned SEC DPOTY honors with 52 tackles and seven sacks in his junior season.

Following Anderson, there is a bundle of defensive players that could have a huge inaugural campaign in the NFL. Georgia DT Jalen Carter is the “wild card” of the draft’s top-15. He’s bounced around quite a bit since mock drafts first started to surface in 2023, but there’s no debate that he’s worthy of top five consideration. The 2022 draft was a memorable one with a surplus of trades to keep fans glued to the big screen. There’s bound to be a case of deja vu on Thursday night.

The question is which defensive player will go first? Here’s what oddsmakers say. NFL Draft odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.


  • Will Anderson -175
  • Tyree Wilson +150
  • Jalen Carter +900
  • Devon Witherspoon +3000
  • Christian Gonzalez +3000

Best bet

While it’s expected that two QBs — Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud — will be taken off the board to start the draft on Thursday, the prediction for the first defensive player hoists a tad more value. The Arizona Cardinals are slated to pick third, while the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions are on the clock at Nos. 5 and 6 — all of whom need serious help on defense.

Anderson would instantly become a key member of the Cardinals and a defensive line that allowed 21 rushing touchdowns in 2022. If the organization decides to stand pat, that is. In any scenario where Seattle, Detroit, or possibly the Philadelphia Eagles decide to trade up for Carter, then his value at +550 is going look great on your winning bet slip.