Although the NFL has hit the midway mark of the 2018 campaign, the league is already preparing and projecting for the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s not a perfect science, by any means, because a lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but there’s one team an analytics expert is expecting to get the No. 1 overall pick.
According to NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund, the Los Angeles Rams will be the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, the Kansas City Chiefs will be the top seed in the AFC, and she has the Oakland Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden getting the top pick in next spring’s draft.
Using Frelund’s model — one that simulated 20,000 games tracking personnel, matchups, play-calling and results from past seasons, among several other things — the Raiders, who are currently 1-6, are projected to have 3.5 wins in 2018 and have a 0.1 chance to make the playoffs.
That’s definitely not good, but the top pick might not be all bad, either, as the organization gets ready to move the team to Las Vegas.
The bottom six teams certainly have had their issues this season:
— The Raiders (3.5 projected wins) cannot seem to piece together a full game and have started stashing draft picks, including sending wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys.
— The San Francisco 49ers (3.9) were bitten by the injury bug when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3.
— The New York Giants (3.9) have rather horrendous offensive line and an aging quarterback.
— The Arizona Cardinals (4.0) have already fired their offensive coordinator after a putrid start.
— The Cleveland Browns (6.4) are making sure the world still knows they are the Cleveland Browns.
What’s even crazier than the Browns not having the No. 1 overall pick is that 11 teams — Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers included — are projected to finish with less than seven wins.
Of course, nobody is winning 0.4 or 0.9 of a game. It’s just not possible, but this model is fun to study.
There’s still 135 more NFL games to be played this season, but the NFL might already have an idea who will be on the clock first in April before the second half of the season gets underway.