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How the NFL breaks ties for the NFL Draft order

The NFL Draft order has developed a lengthier process for breaking any ties. We break them down.

A general view shows fans during round three of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The 2022-23 NFL regular season is coming to a close and the Houston Texans have clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The draft won’t take place for three more months, but the order is starting to finalize.

The close of the regular season locks in the top 18 picks in the draft. The remaining 14 spots are determined based on how teams finish in the playoffs. The Super Bowl champ has the last pick of the first round and the Super Bowl runner-up has the pick right before them.

Teams are going to finish with the same record at the end of the season, and that means we have to go to tiebreakers to determine draft position in the first and subsequent rounds. The league used to use strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker and a coin flip as the second tiebreaker. That has since changed and the league now uses tiebreakers similar to what they use for determining playoff teams.

Strength of schedule remains the top tiebreaker for draft order. That involves counting up the wins, losses, and ties and figuring out the win percentage of a team’s opponents. The team with a lower win percentage wins the tiebreaker. The draft is meant to help bad teams improve and so a team with that lost the same amount of games as another team but did so against an easier schedule is viewed as the worse team for purposes of draft order..

Most teams will be separated out with that tiebreaker, but sometimes the league will have two or more teams tied in strength of schedule. The teams then move to division and conference tiebreakers. If they are not applicable or ties still exist between teams of difference conferences, ties will be broken using the following tie-breaking method:

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games (minimum of four)
  3. Strength of victory in all games
  4. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
  5. Best net points in all games
  6. Best net touchdowns in all games
  7. Coin toss