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NFL draft betting: No. 2 pick gets the spotlight treatment

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Spoiler alert: "With the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Bryce Young, quarterback, Alabama" is something we'll hear Thursday night.

You're welcome to believe the Panthers haven't decided who they'll take with the top pick, and sportsbooks are still allowing you to bet against it. But Young's odds of -1800 at theScore Bet suggest we're up to a 94.7% probability that Carolina will select him. That means the intrigue for Thursday's draft begins with the second overall pick - for now.

A big surprise hit the betting markets for the No. 2 pick over the weekend when Will Levis shot up to the odds-on favorite to have his name called after Young. Whether it's the Texans quietly eyeing Levis to be their next franchise quarterback or there's a trade in the works, the shake-up in this market is real.

Player to be drafted 2nd overall

PLAYER ODDS (4/24) ODDS (4/18)
Will Levis -140 +275
Tyree Wilson +210 +350
C.J. Stroud +400 +350
Will Anderson +450 +150
Bryce Young +1500 +900
Jalen Carter +1500 +2500
Anthony Richardson +1800 +2500

But there's nothing publicly tying Houston to being overly interested in Levis. The Texans are reportedly OK with passing on the quarterbacks available in this year's draft, potentially eyeing next season's top signal-caller prospects - Caleb Williams and Drake Maye - since the club likely won't contend in 2023 anyway.

While we've virtually put the Panthers' jersey on Young already, it's still not official, and the Texans trading the second pick may be contingent on Young being Carolina's selection. ESPN's Todd McShay reported Monday that the Colts are enthralled by Levis. The Kentucky quarterback matches Jalen Hurts physically, who new Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen worked with as the Eagles' offensive coordinator over the previous two campaigns.

If draft insiders know this, so do front offices. Houston would be smart to target the Colts for a trade to move two spots. It would garner the Texans some assets while allowing them to pick the edge rusher they're interested in - Will Anderson or Tyree Wilson - regardless of what the Cardinals do at No. 3. In fact, the widely-known availability of Arizona's selection is why the Colts should be motivated to trade into the second slot if they really want Levis.

It's critical in draft betting to balance what makes sense to you - the bettor - along with what we learn about a team's needs and wants. Anytime there's a big move in any of the markets, we look at what makes the most sense and see how the pick could affect subsequent selections.

If the Colts move up to get their quarterback - something that may not be announced until draft night - then Anderson (+750) and Wilson (+1600) are live to go as the fourth selection to Houston. Given there's little chance Indianapolis picks either defender, the market isn't currently expecting them to go in that slot. But the path exists for that to happen considering what we know about the Colts' interest in Levis and the market move for him as the new betting favorite for the second overall pick.

Matt Russell is the senior betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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