Last year we had a long involved discussion of the NFL’s new draft plan. Under the new plan, teams will draft based on where they finished in the playoffs rather than just on their regular season record. Let’s revisit that plan for a moment to see what effect it will have.
In question are the last 12 picks. I’ve listed the current draft order. The number after each team is the number of positions that team gained or lost thanks to the new system.
21. Cincinnati (10-6) GAINED TWO SPOTS
22. New England (10-6) GAINED TWO SPOTS*
23. Green Bay (11-5) GAINED THREE SPOTS
24. Philadelphia (11-5) GAINED THREE SPOTS
25. Baltimore (9-7) LOST THREE SPOTS
26. Arizona (10-6) LOST ONE SPOT*
27. Dallas (11-5) GAINED ONE SPOT
28. San Diego (13-3) GAINED TWO SPOTS
29. New York Jets (9-7) LOST 8 SPOTS
30. Minnesota (12-4) LOST 1 SPOT
31. Indianapolis (14-2)
32. New Orleans (13-3)
*Fewest possible spots gained or lost. Ultimate draft position would have been determined by coin flip.
So, we can see the big loser in this new system is the Jets, who got docked a whopping 8 slots in the draft for making the AFC Championship game. One of the major arguments against this plan at the time was that it would create an imbalance between the conferences. This year the plan cost the AFC 5 draft slots while the NFC gained 5. The system clearly helps wild card teams with good records who lose on the road in the playoffs. Already good teams like the Packers and Eagles get an extra boost, while surprise teams like the Jets take a major hit. This plan could heavily impact the AFC East next year. Under the old system, the Jets would still be drafting before the Patriots every round. Now the Jets pick seven spots AFTER New England every single round. In what promises to be a tight division race, that’s the kind of advantage that could pay off for the Pats.