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2023 Lions draft order: Breaking down highest, lowest scenarios for Rams pick

Breaking down every scenario for the Detroit Lions’ top 2023 NFL Draft pick (via the Rams).

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Almost every Detroit Lions fan will be rooting for the Los Angeles Rams to pull off a big upset over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon. If the game falls that way, that means Detroit’s season finale against the Green Bay Packers on “Sunday Night Football” suddenly becomes a “win-and-you’re-in” game for both teams. If the Seahawks win, the Lions are eliminated from playoff contention.

It’s a strange twist of fate for Lions fans, who have been rooting all season for the Rams to lose. Detroit owns the Rams’ first-round pick due to last year’s Matthew Stafford trade, and the more the Rams lose, the better that pick becomes.

With only one more game to go in the regular season, where that pick will end up has finally come into focus. So let’s look at the possible outcomes for that Rams pick depending on if they win or lose this week against the Seahawks.

Here’s the current 2023 NFL Draft order after Week 17:

Note: Strength of schedule—the primary tiebreaker—is taken from Tankathon.

  1. Texans: 2-13-1 (.485 strength of schedule)
  2. Bears: 3-13 (.566)
  3. Broncos (owned by Seahawks): 4-12 (.485)
  4. Cardinals: 4-12 (.526)
  5. Colts: 4-11-1 (.507)
  6. Rams (owned by Lions): 5-11 (.517)
  7. Falcons: 6-10 (.470)
  8. Raiders: 6-10 (.471)
  9. Panthers: 6-10 (.474)

Everyone else is at 7-9 or better. Obviously, with the Rams at five wins, they can’t fall below any of those teams with one remaining potential win.

Obviously, the Rams can’t mathematically catch a two or three-win team as they already have five wins. So based on record alone, the range of the Rams’ pick will finish between Pick No. 3 and Pick No. 9.

But let’s dig a little deeper:

If the Rams lose to the Seahawks...

First, we’ll all be sad, because that means the Lions are not in the playoffs, but it would obviously help both of the Lions’ first-round picks. Their own first-round pick would now be guaranteed to be no lower than 18.

As for the Rams pick, it would finish no lower than sixth overall. As for how high it would raise, it depends on the four-win teams. Unfortunately, the Broncos are one of those four-win teams and their strength of schedule (.485) is significantly easier than the Rams’ (.517). So even if they finish with the same record, the Rams won’t jump the Broncos. In other words, if the Rams lose, the pick will fall between four and six overall.

Here are the relevant games to follow, with each win from either the Cardinals or Colts jumping the draft pick a spot from six to potentially four:

The 49ers (14-point favorites) could still technically get the No. 1 seed, and they’ll need to win to hold their No. 2 seed. With something to play for, don’t expect the 49ers to blow this one.

  • Colts vs. Texans

The Colts are playing some terrible football right now, but they just so happen to be facing the worst team in football this week. Indianapolis is a three-point favorite, so there’s a good chance this game falls in Detroit’s favor.

So if the Rams lose, the most likely scenario is the Lions finishing with the fifth or sixth pick.

If the Rams beat the Seahawks...

We’re all getting very excited for “Sunday Night Football.” But in terms of draft pick, it means the Lions’ pick will be no higher than sixth overall. The win would move the Rams to six wins, and they’d have the toughest strength of schedule among the six-win teams—and that isn’t likely to change:

  • Rams: 6-11 (.517)
  • Falcons: 6-10 (.470)
  • Raiders: 6-10 (.471)
  • Panthers: 6-10 (.474)

So how far they slide from sixth overall is completely dependent on the results of the Falcons, Raiders, and Panthers games. Every loss by one of those teams drops the Rams’ pick another spot. Here’s a look at those games:

Falcons vs. Buccaneers

The Bucs are locked into the fourth overall seed and have nothing to play for. And even though the Buccaneers have said they will not be benching starters, the Falcons—who are out of playoff contention—are four-point favorites.

Raiders vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs are 7.5-point favorites and still fighting for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. An upset here feels very unlikely.

Panthers vs. Saints

Both teams here are out of playoff contention, and Carolina seems focused on their head coaching search. The Saints are at home and 3.5-point favorites, but perhaps Steve Wilks can rally the troops one more time and make a case for the long-term head coaching job.

In short, the Rams pick will finish anywhere between six and nine if they win, but it will most likely be between seven and nine.

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