How I Created The Draft Order For 2018 NFL Mock Drafts
Predicting the 2018 NFL Draft order = RAGE
Okay. I get it. There is absolutely NO way to create a draft order before the season starts that won’t piss off 31 fanbases. When making an early mock draft I’ve found that outrage about the draft order always- ALWAYS- distracts from the mock draft itself.
First of all, I wanted to let you know that we at MockOut have a plan for this. A new version of the game will be available soon where this will not be an issue. I hope I have piqued your interest. Stay tuned.
Until then, I wanted to give a detailed explanation of how I arrived at the draft order we are all using in our Early 2018 NFL Draft Contest.
Here’s the theory. When in doubt… follow the money. We should all be in doubt right now, because nobody knows how the season is going to unfold. Sure, we all have opinions on how teams will do, and we all know that our own opinion is right, while others are inherently flawed and biased. So how do you create a standard draft order for all these varying opinions to work from?
Follow the money.
Vegas odds know… we are only guessing
Here are the Vegas odds for Super Bowl 52, which I worked from to create the draft order.
Now, within the Vegas odds, I need to have a little freedom to let my opinion shine through. So I broke the odds down into tiers, until it came to playoff teams. So let’s start from the bottom.
These two teams still have by far the longest odds, even with the Jets calling it a season, so I had to go with these two alone in a tier. Picking CLE to finish better than SF was easy, as they have more young talent in place on both sides of the ball, and arguably a better QB situation.
In this tier, I was very happy to peg the Jets as the worst team. I also wanted to put the Lions as the best team, as I think they will be much improved from last season. But please keep in mind, this draft order was determined before RT Wagner was injured. I would still slot the Lions later in the draft than this if I had my druthers. But I don’t, because I am following the money here. They are a team I might be really wrong about.
I think the Rams and Bears could both be dumpster fires, and will both be in contention for the number 1 overall pick, but in this toss-up I went with the Bears to be the slightly better team because I prefer their offense. Despite a maybe-fantastic defense, I don’t trust Bortles at all so I put Jacksonville next.
I like the Bills and Chargers for next season, but thanks to big improvements on the Chargers interior O-line and adding a difference maker in Mike Williams (as opposed to the Bills, who took the biggest “meh” of the first round) I favored them to be the better team.
From here I jumped to the top of the draft. The picks in the teens would be dictated by who made the playoffs and who didn’t, so I needed to settle on that first.
All these teams were the heavy favorites to be in the final 8, so I stuck with them. Sorry if I am considered a homer, but Vegas also puts the Hawks at +1200, so I am not alone. They get the Super Bowl nod over Dallas, who I put right below them. Due to the nature of the playoff system, I had to put an AFC team next, and I think the Raiders are probably the most well-rounded team in that conference after NE.
It’s impossible to imagine the Packers not going far if Rodgers stays healthy, so they were next in line, followed by the Texans, who are a controversial choice for many. Hear me out. They made it to the divisional round last season. With Osweiler at QB! And without the best player in the NFL! But now Watt is back from injury, and whichever QB starts, Savage or Watson, should be an upgrade or equal to Brock. I think the divisional round is this team’s floor.
I like the Steelers offense so much, and think they’ve done enough on D for me to place them just above the Falcons, whose loss of Shanahan I think is being underappreciated by the media and fans alike. This team will take a step back. Probably not a huge step, but a step.
Now I have to predict my final 4 wild card teams. To do this, I looked at who I had as the final 8 teams (Vegas odds don’t take divisions into account, but draft needs to) and used my own opinion on who I thought would make it there, influenced by the Vegas odds, but not absolutely determined by them.
With Denver being the team with the shortest odds, I put them as the best of the wild card bunch. I put Indy next, based on their QB situation, the improvement their O-line showed last year, and their very strong draft getting both Hooker and Wilson for their defensive backfield.
Two NFC teams left, and I put the Giants up first because their defense was quite strong last season, and I see their offense regressing upward back to the mean. It was a tough call for me to choose between the Panthers and Bucs, but in the end I picked the Panthers because they showed two years ago how good they CAN be, whereas with Tampa we are just speculating on how good they MIGHT be.
Picks 10-20 are left to sort, and while that is a very large tier, I don’t mind. It’s in the middle of the draft. The difference between the best and worst teams in this tier is pretty minimal, so I went with a combination of my opinion and Vegas odds here.
If you caught my CouchFans podcast appearance (episode 1) you already know, I am not a believer in the Bengals this season. This is how their O-line played last season, and then they lost their two best O-linemen. Trouble is a brewin’.
Washington and Miami are both right down there with the Bengals for their Super Bowl odds, so while both teams might seem better on paper, I’m going to follow the money on these two and keep them down here.
I had to bump the Saints down below where Vegas had them, because of that defense. It’s still so bad. AND they lost their number 1 receiver. I know, I know, Michael Thomas. While his stats were good, Thomas just doesn’t bring the dynamism to an offense that a player of Cooks’ caliber does. They will struggle to keep up with the holes their defense digs for them again this season.
Tennessee and Philly are a couple of teams who showed a lot last season behind young QBs, and who seem to be vastly improved at WR now. They still have to show they can win games with these QBs, but they get middle-of-the-pack rankings based on their potential now.
I have Arizona next, based on their strength of schedule and a presumed bounce-back season for the passing game. Losing Campbell on their D-line will hurt, but I like the Reddick pick. If David Johnson stays healthy, they could challenge.
Baltimore quietly had a decent season passing last year, and added some good pieces this offseason. If they get any improvement from Perriman on the perimeter or Dixon in the backfield, to go with the addition of Woodhead, this offense might be able to carry the D.
I ranked Minnesota this high (and considered putting them higher) because they are a very well-rounded team with a great defense. But that O-line. Man. As you can see from my Bengals ranking, I put a lot of stock into teams without mobile QBs (which excludes Wilson and the Hawks) struggling behind bad O-lines. This should be the case in Minnesota as well. If they had two better O-linemen, they would be a sure-fire playoff squad.
Tampa Bay you already read about in my Carolina description. They are majorly improved on paper. We’ll just have to wait and see if that translates to wins during the season.
Full disclosure- the draft order was set before Maclin left for Baltimore. That said, the Chiefs are a team that gave the Steelers a game in the divisional round last season… and not much talent was lost. Their D is pretty much the same. Maclin wasn’t a huge part of the offense toward the end of the year anyway, so his loss isn’t exactly massive. They drafted a QB who I don’t believe will see the field this season. They deserve to stay this high, for now.
Consider also that Vegas has them as the team with the shortest odds of all my non-playoff teams, and it just reinforces my ranking. When in doubt, what do we do?
We follow the money.
Now click over to my first 2018 NFL Mock Draft to see this shiny new draft order in action.
Why don’t you take this baby out for a spin as well? Download the MockOut app and join our free Early 2018 NFL Mock Draft Contest.
photo: Cliff Hawkins, Getty Images