As the focus slowly turns to the 2019 Detroit Lions season, draft position becomes the obsession for many fans. It’s understandable. Having a top 10 draft pick is exciting and consistently produces Pro Bowl-level talent. Just look at the how many top 10 picks from each class have made the all-star game at least once.
While Pro Bowls probably aren’t the best measure of talent, that’s still a significant piece of data. 22 out of the last 50 top-10 picks (not including 2018) have made it to the Pro Bowl.
The Lions look like they’re headed for a top-10 pick in 2019, but they may very well be headed for a top-five pick. They’re currently seventh in draft order, but they’re only a game behind the Jets, who currently stand with the third overall pick.
Football Outsiders currently pegs the Lions’ odds at a top-five pick at 35.1%. This is based on their predictive model, which uses their advanced statistic, DVOA, to predict outcomes of upcoming game.
For those true dreamers out there, I’m sorry to notify you that the Lions have a 0.0% chance at the first overall pick. While it’s still mathematically possible, it’s so improbable that Football Outsiders’ calculations say it may as well be impossible.
It makes sense, because the first (and most improbable) thing that needs to happen is the Cardinals need to beat both the Rams and the Seahawks, while the Lions need to lose out. But that’s only the beginning. Detroit would also need the Raiders to beat the Broncos and the Chiefs, and they’d need all three of these teams to win at least one game: the Jets, 49ers, Falcons.
But they only need to jump two teams to get into the top five, and one of those teams (Falcons) already has the same record and a strength a scheduled just barely easier than the Lions, per Tankathon.
The Lions haven’t had a top five pick in the NFL Draft since 2013, when they selected Ezekiel Ansah with the No. 5 pick.