Should the NFL institute a Draft Lottery?

Kate Arhar
Cleveland Browns Reporter

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

Tonight is the NBA’s Draft Lottery. As a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers, there were many years when this date would have been marked on my calendar in January. We would even joke as the seasons neared the finish line that each loss was “another ball in the hopper.”

How does this system work? And better yet, is it time to consider some type of Draft Lottery for the NFL?


The NFL has a considerably shorter season than the NBA. This means that the separation between the top five picks in the NFL Draft are usually just one loss. Does the straight reverse win-loss record draft order lead to teams tanking? Are fans dismayed at winning that week 17 game because it automatically drops their team’s draft position? I believe so.

The NBA creates 1,000 four-digit combinations and then assigns them to the 14 non-playoff teams. Worst record gets 250 combinations, next two teams get 164, then 163, 94, 66, 44, 27, 15, 8 and finally 5. The winning combinations are drawn for draft positions 1, 2 and 3. The rest of the draft is then set based on reverse win-loss record amongst all teams.

Seems pretty simple, well maybe not simple but at least straight forward. The worst team has the best odds and then teams 2-4 are pretty close. How would this work for the NFL? While it seems fair and equitable to simply reward the worst team with the best pick and put the Super Bowl Champ dead last in each round, how can we keep it fair while NOT rewarding the “tanking” mentality?

I’d take the 10 worst teams and enter them in the lottery for picks 1 through 5. Next, I’d go back to the “balls in the hopper” program. Worst five teams get 25 balls, then 23, 21, 19, 17.  I’d then give teams six through ten just 9, 7, 5, 3, 1 to lower their odds a bit. Theoretically, top five teams would end up in top five, but even team ten has a chance at that top pick. (I know, math hurts sometimes.)

But the end result is worst team has a 19% chance of getting first pick, followed by 18%, 16%, 15% 13% and so on. It’s still the best chance but it’s close enough that teams may actually try to get that 2nd or 3rd win at the end of the season. And while you may not see a big difference between 1-15 and 3-13, I can tell you that, having lived through some really bad seasons, it does matter.

I truly believe it matters to players as well. No one likes to lose. No one likes to end the season with a loss that you have to replay in your mind for eight months. No one wants to hear fans cheering a loss to get that better draft pick or be ridiculed by fans for tanking.

And… let’s be honest… we’d all be watching the NFL Draft Lottery Pay-Per-View Special! $$

I’d love to hear your thoughts – either agree, disagree or propose something else! Comment here or hit me up on twitter!

Talk football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8 

#SmartWomen #SmartFootball 

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