Complete 2016 NFL Draft Order

On the Clock in Chicago in 2016 for the NFL DraftCongratulations to the Broncos for their victory in Super Bowl 50, to Peyton Manning for winning his second championship, and to Von Miller for his superb play throughout the playoffs and his Super Bowl MVP award. Miller is one of the most dynamic young defenders in the game, and was one of the nicest young men I have met in person in my years going to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Both the Broncos and the Panthers offer great lessons for our virtual NFL General Managers playing our iGMTM game, but that’s a topic for another time.

The NFL is truly the game that never stops, and this time of year is about turning the page and looking forward to the Scouting Combine, free agency, pro days, and the NFL Draft, where the teams that will vie for championships in the near future will add key pieces that will help make them contenders. NFL scouts have been hard at work since last summer, but this is the time of year that the rest of us shift our attention to our own scouting. For us, this time of year is as much as or even more fun than the actual competition of the NFL’s season.

With the Super Bowl in the books, much of the NFL Draft order has been determined. This year, there are no coin flips to break ties. However, the final draft order will not be known until the March owners’ meetings, where the 32 Compensatory draft choices for net free agents added and lost will be awarded to teams at the end of rounds three through seven.

We do now know most of the draft order, though, and we have uploaded it to our site for our virtual GMs to use in mock drafts by this weekend (and then updated for the Compensatory picks when those are announced.) The draft order is determined by a relatively simple process, as NFL processes go. Many in our audience will already be familiar with it, but in a nutshell:

  • The twenty teams not qualifying for the playoffs are grouped by record, from worst to best, with tie-breakers determining the order in Round One
  • Within each group having the same record, the order rotates in each round, with the team picking first in the group in Round One dropping to last in Round Two, and the other teams moving up one slot. The three 5-11 teams, Jacksonville, Baltimore, and San Francisco, pick 5th, 6th, and 7th in Round One based on tie-breakers. In Round Two, the order shifts to Bal, SF, Jax. In Round Three, it’s SF, Jax, Bal. Round Four goes back to the Round One order, and so on.
  • Picks 21-24 belong to the four Wildcard Round losers, with ties broken by regular season record, and no rotation among these teams from round to round unless they had the same regular season record. Thus, Washington (9-7) has pick number 21 and Houston (also 9-7) has pick number 22 in odd rounds, and vice-versa in even rounds.
  • Picks 25-28 go to the four Divisional Round losers, with regular season records breaking ties, and teams with the same records rotating in each round. This year, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Green Bay were all 10-6 and will rotate in each round. The Chiefs were 11-5 and are locked into the 28th slot throughout the Draft
  • Picks 29 and 30 go to the Conference Championship Game losers, in 2016, that’s New England and Arizona. By virtue of their records, the Patriots pick 29th and the Cardinals pick 30th, but note that New England has no first round pick this year as a consequence of “Deflate-gate.”
  • Lastly, Carolina is locked into the 31st slot in all rounds, and Denver, as the Super Bowl champion, is locked into pick 32. 


Now that we know the original owners of all non-compensatory picks, the only thing left is to adjust for trades made in the past involving picks in this Draft. Wheeling and dealing in the Draft is commonplace, and picks in the next Draft are included in Draft-day trades routinely.

As an aside, I always try to trade a late pick or two for a pick a round higher in the next Draft for my own iGMTM team, especially if I have moved down a few times and accumulated multiple picks in the later rounds. Since I can’t be fired as GM of my virtual team (one of the few aspects of iGMTM that is entirely unrealistic,) I can afford to think long term at all times!

The highest 2016 pick affected by a trade, pending further trade activity after the new League Year starts on March 9th, is the Eagles’ Round Two pick, which is the property of the Rams to complete the Sam Bradford for Nick Foles trade from last March. With the benefit of hindsight, this trade did not have the anticipated impact, and now Bradford is a free agent as the Eagles bring on a new coaching staff.

Philadelphia’s draft inventory is replenished a bit by the Round Three pick they get from the Lions that completes a long and winding history… unless this pick ends up being traded as well. At the opening of the NFL Draft in 2012, Philly traded veteran CB Asante Samuel to Atlanta for a seventh round pick that they used to draft RB Bryce Brown. After a couple of years in green, he was traded to Buffalo for a conditional draft choice that became a 2015 R4. After a run on OLs, a position of need for the Eagles, leading up to this slot, they traded it to Detroit for their Round Three pick in this Draft.

In early Aprii of 2015, the Broncos picked up OL Gino Gradkowski from the Ravens, in exchange for a swap of Denver’s Round Four pick for Baltimore’s Round Five pick in this draft. Things could have worked out better for both the Broncos and Gradkowski, as the player was waived by the team during final roster cuts last September, and he missed out on a chance to win his second ring. Instead, he spent the season in Atlanta after they claimed him off the waiver wire.

In the fifth round, Atlanta’s pick is forfeited as a penalty for enhancing their home crowd noise, and the Rams exercised their pick in the 2015 Supplemental Draft to take Clemson OT Isaiah Battle. In trades involving playes, KC has Seattle’s pick (S Kelcie McCray,) Oakland has Dallas’ pick (WR Brice Butler,) Denver has Baltimore’s pick (OL Gino Gradkowski, as mentioned earlier,) and Houston has New England’s pick (WR Keshawn Martin.) Detroit has Denver’s pick and SF has SD’s pick from 2015 trades during the Draft.

A total of seventeen picks in Round Six have already changed hands from previous deals, as have eight more in Round Seven. These trades are all reflected in the draft order on our site.

Note that we may make minor corrections to our site’s draft order, most commonly if we learn that a pick traded in a 2015 in-draft trade was one previously acquired from another team, versus the team’s own pick. And, of course, the Compensatory picks will be added when they are awarded in March.

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