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NFL Draft Odds Favor Jack Campbell as First Linebacker Selected

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in NFL Football

Updated Apr 4, 2023 · 2:16 PM PDT

Iowa LB Jack Campbell smiling at NFL Combine
Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (LB05) participates in drills during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jack Campbell of the Iowa Hawkeyes is the +125 favorite to be the first linebacker selection in the 2023 NFL Draft odds
  • Drew Sanders of the Arkansas Razorbacks (+140) is also being offered with a short price
  • Trenton Simpson from the Clemson Tigers (+385) is the only other LB given a betting line shorter than +1000

Last year, the first linebacker selected in the NFL Draft was waiting a long time to hear his name called. Based on cross-referencing a number of NFL mock drafts, history will be repeating itself in 2023.

It was Georgia’s Quay Walker going 22nd to the Green Bay Packers that finally put a linebacker’s name up on the draft board. This year, football pundits are predicting the wait will be even longer, likely falling somewhere in the mid-20s range. There are even some mock drafts projecting that no LB will go during the first round.

Oddsmakers are expressing similar uncertainty when it comes to determining which LB will be the first to hear his name called during the draft. It’s Jack Campbell of the Iowa Hawkeyes who’s being set as the +125 favorite in the NFL Draft odds.

NFL Draft Odds First Linebacker

Players (School) Odds
Jack Campbell (Iowa) +125
Drew Sanders (Arkansas) +140
Trenton Simpson (Clemson) +385
Daiyan Henley (Washington State) +1100
Henry To’oTo’o (Alabama) +2000
Nick Herbig (Wisconsin) +2500
Noah Sewell (Oregon) +2500
Demarvion Overshown (Texas) +3000
Cam Jones (Indiana) +5000
Dorian Williams (Tulane) +5000
Micah Baskerville (LSU) +7500
Payton Wilson (NC State) +7500
Mohamoud Diabate (Utah) +10000
Dee Winters (TCU) +10000
Isaiah Moore (NC State) +10000
Ivan Pace (Cincinnati) +10000

Two other linebackers – Drew Sanders of the Arkansas Razorbacks (+140) and Trenton Simpson of the Clemson Tigers (+385) – are also being given short odds to be the first choice at the position. No other LB is garnering odds shorter than +1100.

At least three LB have heard their names called during the first round of each of the past five NFL Drafts, but that streak is almost certainly going to end this year. Odds as of April 4 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The NFL Draft is slated for April 27-29 at 8pm ET and will be broadcast by ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network.


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Campbell the Safe Play

Butkus Award winner Campbell is like that trusted dinner order that’s your go-to meal on the menu when eating out. He might not be a tasty sensation, but he won’t leave you feeling any indigestion. In other words, he’s a safe pick.

The projection is that Campbell will develop into an NFL starter but won’t step immediately into that role. His range and top-end speed are lacking, so his pass coverage ability against NFL running backs could be limited. There are some NFL personnel types who believe that the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Campbell could slide all the way to Day 3 of the NFL Draft.

Sanders Viewed By Some as Pro Bowl Talent

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Sanders offers tremendous length and range. He started out at Alabama before transferring to Arkansas. Sanderson compiled 103 tackles for the Razorbacks last season, 13.5 of which were tackles for loss. He also delivered 9.5 sacks and forced three fumbles.

On his pro day, he ran a 4.55-second 40 and extended a vertical leap of 37 inches. Some scouts see Sanders as holding Pro Bowl potential. Others think he’ll be no better than a pass rushing specialist.

Simpson Offering Potentially Huge Upside

NFL personnel types are certainly intrigued by the physical tools that Clemson’s Simpson presents. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound inside LB ran a 4.43-second 40 and achieved a vertical jump of 40.5 inches when graded by NFL scouts.

At the same time. he’s only being starting inside the tackles for one season of college football. And during that season, Simpson managed no interceptions and just three passes broken up. The Third-Team All-ACC player led Clemson with 77 tackles, collected 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles.

Which LB Comes Off NFL Draft Board First?

This is clearly a wide-open race. Campbell is the safe bet, but with his length Sanders could prove an outstanding pass rush.

Simpson, though, looks to be the LB offering the most potential upside. There’s no sure-fire future star like Micah Parsons or Devin White among this year’s crop, so a team might as well roll the dice on a boom or bust player such as Simpson.

Pick: Trenton Simpson (+385)

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