This afternoon, our Rob DiRe took an early look at some of the teams that will have picks near the top of the 2015 draft, noting which of those clubs may be interested in snagging a quarterback. Before we can comfortably project where top college signal-callers like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston might land though, we’ll need to figure out exactly how the 2015 draft order will look.
The 2014 season still features a number of teams in the hunt for division titles or Wild Card spots, with a chance that a club in each conference could win 10 games and still not make the postseason. Conversely, with plenty of teams piling up wins, there are several cellar-dwellers racking up loss after loss this year. Of course, by NFL rules, the teams with the worst records pick first in the following year’s draft, with strength of schedule breaking ties — the team that faced the easier schedule receives the higher pick.
After knocking off the Chiefs earlier this month, the Raiders head into Week 13 with a 1-10 record, matching the 1-10 Jaguars for the league’s worst mark. As Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap lays out, Oakland has faced a much trickier schedule than Jacksonville, meaning the Jags currently project to land the first overall pick.
Still, the Jags have a handful of winnable games left on their schedule, including two contests against Houston and home games against the Giants and Titans. The Raiders face a tougher slate, but have been playing better ball recently, and should be competitive in games against the Rams and Bills — Week 17’s contest in Denver could also get a lot easier if the Broncos aren’t playing for postseason seeding at that point.
Of course, the race for the first overall pick includes more teams than just Oakland and Jacksonville. The Buccaneers, Jets, and Titans are all 2-9, and with games still remaining against the Jets and Jags, the Titans’ performance down the stretch could go a long way to determining the draft’s top five. The Buccaneers, with a .469 overall strength of schedule (per OTC), are also in position to sneak into that No. 1 overall spot if they struggle down the stretch — of Tampa Bay’s five remaining games, three are against legit playoff contenders (Bengals, Lions, Packers), while two are against clubs still hoping to win the NFC South (Panthers, Saints). If the Bucs don’t win another game, and the Raiders and Jags do, it would almost certainly give Tampa Bay the first overall pick next spring.
So what do you think? Which of these also-rans will finish in the NFL’s basement and get the first shot at top college talent in the 2015 draft? Which team will land the No. 1 overall pick?