Jason Licht's first-ever draft pick as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' general manager was #7 in the first round in 2014. That one went well. Barring a trade, Licht's Buccaneers will picking seventh again this coming April.
Tampa Bay's thrilling, season-capping win over New Orleans on Sunday completed the team's 5-11 record in 2017. That, plus a tough schedule that included three playoff teams in their own division, put the Bucs in the seventh spot of the first round of the 2018 draft. Had the Buccaneers lost on Sunday, they would have been slotted fifth in Round One. In 2014, the Buccaneers used the seventh-overall pick on Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who on Sunday became just the third receiver in NFL history to begin his career with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, joining Randy Moss and A.J. Green.
The Buccaneers own picks in each of the first six rounds of the 2018 draft, but their seventh-round selection belongs to the Miami Dolphins as part of a trade Tampa Bay made last spring in order to move up in the seventh round and select USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. Tampa Bay also owns Pittsburgh's sixth-round pick, netted in an early-September trade of safety J.J. Wilcox to the Steelers.
View photos of the Buccaneers' Week 17 game against the Saints.
The NFL draft order is determined by the previous season's standings; the team that finishes with the worst record picks first. The primary tiebreaker used to separate teams with the same win-loss record is strength of schedule (SOS). That figure is determined by combining the win-loss records of a team's opponents in all 16 regular-season games. When comparing SOS figures, it is the team with the worse percentage that wins the tiebreaker, under the logic that it compiled the same record against a weaker group of opponents.
If a tie remains after the strength-of-schedule criteria is applied, the division and conference tiebreaker methods are applied. If a tie still exists, it is broken by a coin flip, usually handled at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. There will be one such coin flips this season, between Oakland and San Francisco, to determine the ninth and 10th spots in the draft. Only the first 20 spots are currently set in stone, the results of the playoffs will determine picks 21-32.
Here is the 2018 NFL Draft order, pending coin flips and the results of the playoffs:
- Cleveland: 0-16 (.520)
- N.Y. Giants: 3-13 (.531)
- Indianapolis: 4-12 (.480)
- Houston (traded to Cleveland): 4-12 (.516)
- Denver: 5-11 (.492)
- N.Y. Jets: 5-11 (.520)
- Tampa Bay: 5-11 (.555)
- Chicago: 5-11 (.559)
- Oakland or San Francisco: 6-10 (.512)
- Oakland or San Francisco: 6-10 (.512)
- Miami: 6-10 (.543)
- Cincinnati: 7-9 (.465)
- Washington: 7-9 (.539)
- Green Bay: 7-9 (.539)
- Arizona: 8-8 (.488)
- Baltimore: 9-7 (.441)
- L.A. Chargers: 9-7 (.457)
- Seattle: 9-7 (.492)
- Dallas: 9-7 (.496)
- Detroit: 9-7 (.496)
- Tennessee: 9-7 (.434)
- Buffalo: 9-7 (.492)
- Jacksonville: 10-6 (.434)
- Kansas City (traded to Buffalo): 10-6 (.477)
- Atlanta: 10-6 (.543)
- L.A. Rams: 11-5 (.504)
- New Orleans: 11-5 (.535)
- Carolina: 11-5 (.539)
- Pittsburgh: 13-3 (.453)
- Philadelphia: 13-3 (.461)
- New England: 13-3 (.484)
- Minnesota: 13-3 (.492)
The SOS tiebreaker is used to determine the order of picks within tied segments in the first round. In successive rounds, the teams in these segments rotate spots, with the team picking highest in Round One dropping to the end of the segment and every other team moving up one spot. As such, the Buccaneers will pick sixth in Round Two and fifth in Round Three before dropping back to eighth in Round Four, and so on.
The Buccaneers' draft slot had a significant amount of potential variance entering the final day of the regular season. Before Sunday's games, the Bucs were tied with Houston in the overall standings, each team with a 4-11 record, while the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears all stood at 5-10. Houston lost to wrap up the #4 pick (though that one actually belongs to Cleveland due to last year's Deshaun Watson trade), while the Broncos, Jets and Bears all lost to 5-11. By improving to 5-11 with the win, Tampa Bay fell behind the Broncos and Jets but stayed ahead of the Bears due to the SOS tiebreaker. San Francisco won to improve to 6-10.
Cleveland is scheduled to pick first for the second year in a row; last spring, the Browns started the draft with the selection of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Cleveland had the first pick in the 2018 draft locked up before Sunday's final slate of games, with Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers merely finishing the Browns' winless season. The New York Giants won but stayed in the #2 spot because the Indianapolis Colts also won.
Tampa Bay has made the seventh-overall pick in the draft on four occasions. In addition to Evans, the Buccaneers also took Alabama safety Mark Barron in that spot in 2012, Tennessee offensive tackle Charles McRae in 1991 and Pittsburgh linebacker Hugh Green in 1981. Evans and Green rank among the better first-round selections in franchise history; Barron and McRae were less-successful choices. Since the Buccaneers chose Evans, the last three seventh-overall picks have been wide receiver Kevin White (Chicago), defensive end DeForest Buckner (San Francisco) and wide receiver Mike Williams (San Diego).