Unlike the NBA and the NHL, the NFL does not have a draft lottery: The NFL bases its draft order on each team’s record, playoff performance and strength of schedule the previous season. Every NFL fan knows that.
But what most NFL fans don’t realize is that the NFL actually does use a lottery to determine the order of the supplemental draft. That lottery will take place on Thursday, just before the supplemental draft on Thursday afternoon.
Like the NBA and NHL, the NFL supplemental draft lottery is weighted so that worse teams get a better chance of having the highest picks. The first drawing will feature the 10 teams that won six or fewer games last season: Colts, Rams, Vikings, Browns, Buccaneers, Redskins, Jaguars, Dolphins, Panthers and Bills. The Colts will get their names put in the drawing 32 times, the Rams 31 times, and so on. Those 10 teams are guaranteed to have Top 10 picks, but the lottery will determine the exact order.
After that, a second drawing takes place with the 10 teams that won seven or more games last season but didn’t make the playoffs: Chiefs, Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Raiders, Chargers, Bears, Titans. The Chiefs will get their names in the drawing 22 times, the Seahawks 21 times, and so on. Those 10 teams get picks 11-20.
Finally, the third drawing is for the 12 playoff teams, with the Super Bowl champion Giants getting their names in the drawing just once. The 12 playoff teams get draft lottery picks 21-32.
After the order is established through the three drawings, the supplemental draft is conducted with teams going in order, round by round, either passing on their order or making a pick. When a team makes a pick in the supplemental draft, it loses the corresponding pick in next year’s regular draft. So, for instance, if a team takes Baylor receiver Josh Gordon in the third round of the supplemental draft, that team will not have its third-round pick next year.
It’s surprising, given how popular the NFL is on television, that none of this is televised: Not the supplemental draft lottery and not the supplemental draft itself. Some day, expect to see the whole thing on NFL Network. But for now, you’ll just have to check PFT on Thursday afternoon to find out what happened in the supplemental draft.
The exact wording of the NFL supplemental draft lottery procedures appears below.
SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT LOTTERY PROCEDURES.
The League office will conduct said supplemental draft with member clubs via the NFL Waivers account. Immediately before each supplemental draft is to begin, the League office will conduct a lottery to determine the selection order of member clubs, weighted as follows:
(A) Each member club’s position will be weighted by assigning the weakest club the greatest number of lottery chances and the strongest club the fewest number. Team strength and weakness will be determined by the order of the first round of the immediately prior principal draft, exclusive of any trades affecting that prior draft (i.e., the weakest club will have its name in the drawing 32 times, the next weakest 31 times, etc., until the Super Bowl winner will have its name in once);
(B) Lottery chances for the weakest teams (those teams which won six or fewer games in the prior regular season) will be placed together in a container and drawn to determine the initial arrangement of places in the selection order equal to the total number of those teams;
(C) Lottery chances for the remaining teams, with the exception of the playoff teams, will then be placed together in a container and drawn to determine their places following those determined in the first drawing; and
(D) Lottery chances for the playoff teams next will be placed together in a container and drawn to determine the remaining places in the selection order.