It’s an awful distinction, but one team has to have it. In the NFL, the top draft pick is awarded to the last-place team in the league. A specific formula weighing the different outcomes allows the NFL to designate which franchise was worse than every other. Sometimes, one pick near the top of the draft can turn around a team’s misfortune. However, some organizations are perennially picking near the top with a seemingly neverending string of busts.
This year, we’re tracking the draft order and watching which teams have the best chance of selecting first overall.
2023 NFL Draft Order Entering Week 18
Pick This Week
Pick Last Week
Playoff positions and the draft order will be determined as the NFL’s regular season draws to a close. For some teams, that means a shot at a Super Bowl, and for others, a look toward the future. Additionally, a rare few will lament trades that resulted in a tumble down the standings at the expense of top draft picks.
There were some risers and fallers of note from Week 17. The Washington Commanders continued their fall from grace, dropping their third straight contest, officially ending their playoff bid. Retrospect wasn’t required to acknowledge that starting Carson Wentz was the wrong choice. Now, the Commanders are giving rookie quarterback Sam Howell his first career start in Week 18 in hopes of securing an even better draft position. The tie, instead of a loss, hurts their chance at a top-ten pick, but Washington will get an elite player with their first-round selection.
Nobody moved further up the board than the New England Patriots. After Week 17, the Pats were projected to draft in the 14th spot, but a win against the Miami Dolphins flung New England seven places up the standings and into a playoff position. Bill Belichick could coach his way out of a paper bag and would be a nightmare matchup in the postseason.
Lastly, the bottom five teams in the standing remain unchanged from last week, but that could change in the final week of the regular season. Like Washington, the Houston Texans earned a tie earlier in the season, which could negatively impact their draft position. By virtue of a Texans win and a Chicago Bears loss, Houston would vault ahead of the Bears on the strength of fewer losses. Both teams have needs, and it’s unlikely the Bears will use the top pick on a signal-caller with Justin Fields under center. Still, it would be a substantial reversal of fortunes after the Texans spent virtually the entire season as the worst team.
2023 NFL Draft Trades
The Cleveland Browns were among the few teams who made an offseason trade for a first-round pick that didn’t work out. Of course, the Browns spent most of the season without Deshaun Watson, but the team hasn’t looked like a contender with the maligned quarterback in the lineup. Worse, Cleveland will have to wait for the second round before making their first pick in the draft.
As it stands now, only two other teams could make multiple selections to make before the playoff-cut line, the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks. And strangely, their playoff destinies are uniquely intertwined.
The Lions take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, with the winner moving to 9-8. Green Bay guarantees themselves a postseason berth with a win against the Lions, meaning the Lions and Seahawks would both make two selections inside the top 18. However, a Lions win and a Seahawks loss would give Detroit the advantage. Alternatively, a Seahawks win and a Packers loss tilts the playoff balance in Seattle’s favor.
Whatever the outcome, plenty can be decided in the season’s final week.
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