With Super Bowl 55 in the books, the entire NFL is now in offseason mode. This also means that the two next big items on each club’s itinerary are free agency and the draft in mid-March and late April, respectively.
It remains to be seen how the two shape out, but we already have a road map of sorts — from the list of players set to enter free agency, to the the order in which teams will pick during the draft. The latter was finalized on Sunday with the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Accordingly, the selection order of the NFL’s 2021 draft now looks as follows:
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-15 (.549 SoS)
- New York Jets: 2-14 (.594 SoS)
- Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans: 4-12 (.541 SoS)
- Atlanta Falcons: 4-12 (.551 SoS)
- Cincinnati Bengals: 4-11-1 (.529 SoS)
- Philadelphia Eagles: 4-11-1 (.537 SoS)
- Detroit Lions: 5-11 (.508 SoS)
- Carolina Panthers: 5-11 (.531 SoS)
- Denver Broncos: 5-11 (.566 SoS)
- Dallas Cowboys: 6-10 (.471 SoS)
- New York Giants: 6-10 (.502 SoS)
- San Francisco 49ers: 6-10 (.549 SoS)
- Los Angeles Chargers: 7-9 (.482 SoS)
- Minnesota Vikings: 7-9 (.504 SoS)
- New England Patriots: 7-9 (.527 SoS)
- Arizona Cardinals: 8-8 (.475 SoS)
- Las Vegas Raiders: 8-8 (.539 SoS)
- Miami Dolphins: 10-6 (.467 SoS)
- Washington Football Team: 7-9 (.459 SoS)
- Chicago Bears: 8-8 (.488 SoS)
- Indianapolis Colts: 11-5 (.443 SoS)
- Tennessee Titans: 11-5 (.475 SoS)
- New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks: 12-4 (.447 SoS)
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4 (.475 SoS)
- Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams: 10-6 (.494 SoS)
- Cleveland Browns: 11-5 (.451 SoS)
- Baltimore Ravens: 11-5 (.494 SoS)
- New Orleans Saints: 12-4 (.459 SoS)
- Green Bay Packers: 13-3 (.428 SoS)
- Buffalo Bills: 13-3 (.512 SoS)
- Kansas City Chiefs: 14-2 (.465 SoS)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11-5 (.488 SoS)
As can be seen, the New England Patriots come in at 15th after finishing the 2020 season with their first losing record in two decades. Even though they have the same 7-9 record as the Los Angeles Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings, their superior strength of schedule means that they lost the tiebreaker to those two teams.
Nonetheless, the Patriots are on track to pick earlier than they have in quite some time. The organization has not selected in the teens since drafting offensive tackle Nate Solder — a six-year starter in New England and cornerstone of two championship teams — with the 17th selection in 2011. The last time the team picked hire than that came in 2008, when long-time starting linebacker and future Pro Bowler Jerod Mayo was brought aboard 10th overall.
From a league-wide perspective we can see that three teams will not have any selections on Day One this year: the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams all traded away their first-rounders. Accordingly, the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars will have two picks at their hands in the first round. The Dolphins and Jets in particular will be worth watching given that they are playing in the same division as New England.