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FootballNFLDraftHow the 2021 Draft order is determined

How the 2021 Draft order is determined

The NFL Draft order is determined by a combination of regular season records, postseason performance, and the strength of schedule in the 2020 season.

The Super Bowl winner is 32, the Super Bowl loser is 31.

Next, the remaining teams are assigned to 4 groups based on their playoff performance: losers of the Conference Championships (29, 30), Divisional Playoffs (25-28), and Wild Card games (19-24); and non-playoff teams (1-18).

Within those groups, teams are ordered based on win-loss record in the regular season, with the better record getting the later pick. Teams in different groups with the same W-L record are not tied. For example, the team with the highest record of Wild Card losers will be 24, even if it has a better record than a Divisional Playoff loser.

If there is a tie within a group (examples: 2 Wild Card losers with a 10-6 record, or 4 non-playoff teams with a 7-9 record), there are additional tiebreaker steps, which starts by the easier (lower) strength of schedule picking first.

Teams that are involved in a tiebreaker will cycle through the order each round, based on the tiebreaker order. Thus, in a 4-team tiebreaker, a team will rotate 1-4-3-2, the second team 2-1-4-3, the third 3-2-1-4, and the fourth 4-3-2-1.

2021 basic draft order

For the 2021 NFL Draft, the basic order of selections shown below (not including trades, compensatory selections, and forfeited picks). PS is how far a team advanced in the postseason. Sched is the win percentage of a team’s opponents (strength of schedule). No tie existed this year beyond the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker. Subsequent rounds shows the order cycle in Rounds 2-7, where the first round follows the basic order. (When these columns are blank, that team has the same position every round.) Color banded rows group the teams that are involved in the same tiebreaker cycle.

# PS W-L Sched Tiebreaker Subsequent Rounds
1. OUT Jacksonville 1-15 .549
2. NY Jets 2-14 .594
3. Houston 4-12 .541 4 3 4 3 4 3
4. Atlanta 4-12 .551 3 4 3 4 3 4
5. Cincinnati 4-11-1 .529 6 5 6 5 6 5
6. Philadelphia 4-11-1 .537 5 6 5 6 5 6
7. Detroit 5-11 .508 9 8 7 9 8 7
8. Carolina 5-11 .531 7 9 8 7 9 8
9. Denver 5-11 .566 8 7 9 8 7 9
10. Dallas 6-10 .471 12 11 10 12 11 10
11. NY Giants 6-10 .502 10 12 11 10 12 11
12. San Francisco 6-10 .549 11 10 12 11 10 12
13. LA Chargers 7-9 .482 15 14 13 15 14 13
14. Minnesota 7-9 .504 13 15 14 13 15 14
15. New England 7-9 .527 14 13 15 14 13 15
16. Arizona 8-8 .475 17 16 17 16 17 16
17. Las Vegas 8-8 .539 16 17 16 17 16 17
18. Miami 10-6 .467

 

Ben Austro
Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor-in-chief and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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