The 2021 NFL Draft is set to be held in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1 and while the draft order was initially set after the Super Bowl, things have changed near the top since then.
Following Tampa Bay's win over Kansas City in Super Bowl LV, the order for the first round was determined. How we got there is outlined below, but several trades, notably a pair in late March involving the Miami Dolphins and two other teams, have since shaken things up. So here's how the first 32 picks will go when the first round starts on April 29.
Note: 2020 regular-season record listed in parentheses.
Current Draft Order
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
2. New York Jets (2-14)
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins via 4-12 Houston Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
6. Miami Dolphins (from 4-11-1 Philadelphia Eagles)
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
11. New York Giants (6-10)
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins via 6-10 San Francisco 49ers)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
15. New England Patriots (7-9)
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)
18. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
19. Washington Football Team (7-9)
20. Chicago Bears (8-8)
21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
22. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
23. New York Jets (from 12-4 Seattle Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 10-6 Los Angeles Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns (11-5)
27. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
28. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
29. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
30. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
31. Baltimore Ravens (from 14-2 Kansas City Chiefs)
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
How is the draft order determined?
At its most basic level, the NFL makes its draft order by ranking teams from worst to best. That means ranking teams first and foremost by their regular-season record.
For the non-playoff teams, that's easy. The first 18 selections are ranked by record, and the tiebreaker goes to the teams with the easiest strength of schedule. For example, the 4-11-1 Bengals had a .529 strength of schedule, while the 4-11-1 Eagles had a .537 mark. That reflects more poorly on the Bengals that they ended up with the same record, so they earned the fifth pick, while the Browns will pick sixth.
Things get slightly more complicated for the 14 playoff teams. Unlike the NBA, where the regular season determines the draft order, the earlier a team is knocked out of the NFL playoffs, the earlier they will pick in the draft.
Picks No. 19-24 go to the four teams knocked out in the Wild Card Round, ranked by their regular-season record (tiebreaker is once again strength of schedule). Picks No. 25-28 go to the teams who lost in the Divisional Round. The 29th and 30th picks go to the teams who lost in the conference title games, while the final two picks belong to the Super Bowl teams.