The NFL Playoffs are down to the final four, with the AFC and NFC Championship games scheduled for next Sunday. While everyone in the Playoffs is vying for their shot at the making and winning the Super Bowl, as teams drop out of the postseason tournament, the NFL Draft order becomes more and more solidified.
The league sets the first 20 draft picks based on the regular season records for each team, with the worst team picking first, the second worst team picking second, and so on. Ties are then broken by strength of schedule. The final 12 positions in the Draft are determined by the Playoffs, with each team being slotted based on their record among the teams that lose in the same round (i.e., the four Wildcard losing teams are arranged in picks 21-24, the four Divisional round losing teams get picks 25-28, the Conference Championship losing teams take spots 29 and 30, the Super Bowl losing team has the 31st pick, and the Super Bowl Champions pick last).
The Divisional Round is now complete, meaning draft positions 25 through 28 are all locked in now. The Pittsburgh Steelers take the 25th position due to their 10-6 record. The Seattle Seahawks, also with a 10-6 record, have a higher strength of schedule from this past year, which lands them in the 26th position. The Green Bay Packers had the highest of the strength of schedules for the three Divisional round losing teams that finished with a 10-6 record in the regular season, giving them the 27th position. And, finally, the Kansas City Chiefs lock in with the 28th pick due to an 11-5 record.
The final four teams remaining in the Playoffs have the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, both with 12-4 records and both on the AFC side of the bracket, while the Arizona Cardinals are 13-3 and the Carolina Panthers are 15-1.
The NFL also rotates picks in each round, so all the teams with identical records will change picks each round. For example, the Miami Dolphins pick 8th in the first round this year, but will jump back to the 11th pick in the second round, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears each moving up one pick. Then in the third round, the Buccaneers will move to the 11th pick, and the Giants, Bears, and Dolphins will each move up.
The full first-round draft order is:
1. Tennessee Titans: 3-13 (.492 strength of schedule)
2. Cleveland Browns: 3-13 (.531 SOS)
3. San Diego Chargers: 4-12 (.528 SOS)
4. Dallas Cowboys: 4-12 (.533 SOS)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-11 (.473 SOS)
6. Baltimore Ravens: 5-11 (.508 SOS)
7. San Francisco 49ers: 5-11 (.539 SOS)
8. Miami Dolphins: 6-10 (.469 SOS)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10 (.484 SOS)
10. New York Giants: 6-10 (.498 SOS)
11. Chicago Bears: 6-10 (.548 SOS)
12. New Orleans Saints: 7-9 (.504 SOS)
13. Philadelphia Eagles: 7-9 (.508 SOS)
14. Oakland Raiders: 7-9 (.512 SOS)
15. St. Louis Rams: 7-9 (.528 SOS)
16. Detroit Lions: 7-9 (.536 SOS)
17. Atlanta Falcons: 8-8 (.478 SOS)
18. Indianapolis Colts: 8-8 (.500 SOS)
19. Buffalo Bills: 8-8 (.508 SOS)
20. New York Jets: 10-6 (.441 SOS)
21. Washington: 9-7 (.465 SOS)
22. Houston Texans: 9-7 (.496 SOS)
23. Minnesota Vikings: 11-5 (.504 SOS)
24. Cincinnati Bengals: 12-4 (.477 SOS)
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 (.504 SOS)
26. Seattle Seahawks: 10-6 (.520 SOS)
27. Green Bay Packers: 10-6 (.531 SOS)
28. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 (.496 SOS)
29. New England Patriots: 12-4 (.473 SOS) - Pick Forfeited
30. Arizona Cardinals: 13-3 (.477 SOS)
31. Denver Broncos: 12-4 (.500 SOS)
32. Carolina Panthers: 15-1 (.441 SOS)