Heading into the final week of the NFL season, the Buccaneers have very little left to play for against a frustrated New Orleans Saints team needing a win to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
So we can instead turn our focus to what the Buccaneers stand to gain or lose in the draft order on Sunday, by evaluating the draft order based on the scenarios likely to unfold on Sunday.
Let’s start with the most basic of news:
- The Buccaneers cannot pick later than eighth
- The Buccaneers cannot pick earlier than third
The Redskins and Texans are going to finish ahead of the Buccaneers in the draft order no matter what, which means the Rams and Texans will draft ahead of the Buccaneers in any circumstance.
But because the Buccaneers have only four wins, they cannot win enough to leap past the eighth spot in the draft, because the ninth worst team will have at least six wins no matter what happens on Sunday.
So how can the Buccaneers move up and down the board over the weekend? Here are the teams to keep an eye on.
Assuming the Buccaneers Lose Against New Orleans
The Buccaneers (with a loss to New Orleans) move up the board if any of these teams win:
- Atlanta (Either on Monday night or in Week 17)
If all of those teams win, and the Buccaneers lose, the Buccaneers will hold the third pick.
If none of those teams win, and the Buccaneers lose, the Buccaneers will hold the seventh pick.
Assuming the Buccaneers Win Against New Orleans
Now, if the Buccaneers win against the Saints, they can still move up the draft board. Here’s how:
- Minnesota must defeat Detroit during Week 17
- The Falcons must upset the 49ers and Panthers.
The Buccaneers would finish sixth in the draft order if all of the above scenarios played out. They would finish no higher than sixth, because they lose every tiebreaker with the other teams around them.
If none of those things happen, and the Buccaneers win, they will hold the eighth pick.