NBA Draft - Should the NFL have a Lottery System?

This post isn’t about the current NBA draft, but the format of the NBA draft and if the NFL should adopt the same format type.  I had to do a lot of research to figure out exactly how it works, but this is the best explanation I can give.

The NBA uses a lottery format to determine who gets the top 3 picks of the draft.  Every team that didn’t make the playoffs or playoff teams that hold the rights to draft picks of teams that didn’t make the playoffs (think Pats holding the Raiders pick) are entered into the lottery.  There are only 14 non playoff teams in basketball (compared to the 20 in football).  The non playoff teams are then ranked in order from worst to best.  The worst team gets a 25% chance of winning, while the best team gets a .5% chance of winning.  Then each team gets numbers out of 1000 numbers.  The worse team with a 25% chance gets 25% of the numbers, which is 250 numbers.  The best team only gets .5% of the numbers, or 5 numbers.

Follow me after this cool jump here for some more information: (Warning: Mathematical content)

In order to decide who gets the first pick, 14 numbers are put into a big lottery wheel, and 4 of them are chosen at random. Just like the real lottery, 1, 2, 3, 4 is the same as 4, 3, 2, 1.  The team with that set of numbers gets the number 1 pick.  The 4 numbers go back into the lottery wheel and 4 more numbers are picked.  The team with that set of numbers get the number 2 pick.  If the team with the number 1 pick has that set of numbers the balls go back into the wheel and 4 more are chosen until a new team gets the number 2 pick.  If teams have 2 first round picks they can have 2 picks in the top three though.

Only the first three picks are lottery winners, the rest of the picks are given out based on record.  So even if the team with the worse record doesn’t get a top 3 pick, they can’t fall further then the 4th position.  Since 1994 when this system was implemented, the worse team has only had the number 1 pick twice.

How would this work in the NFL?  Well Florida Danny would probably be the best one to do stats but I am going to give it a shot anyway (If a completely mess up I’m sorry) 20 teams in the NFL don’t make the playoffs.  So like the NBA let’s put one ball in the wheel for each team.  We are still only going to select 4 numbers, and order doesn’t matter.   That means there are 4845 different combinations.  Like the NBA we are going to give the worse team the best chance with 22.5% of picking number 1, with the best team only getting a .5%.  So going with last year’s record, the Panthers will be given 1090 different combination, with the Bucs getting 24 chances.  Here is the complete breakdown of this past draft and their percentage of the 4845 numbers.

Carolina Panthers



Denver Broncos



Buffalo Bills



Cincinnati Bengals



Arizona Cardinals



Cleveland Browns



San Francisco 49ers



Tennessee Titans



Dallas Cowboys



Washington Redskins



Houston Texans



Minnesota Vikings



Detroit Lions



St. Louis Rams



Miami Dolphins



Jacksonville Jaguars



New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)



San Diego Chargers



New York Giants



Tampa Bay Buccaneers




Again there is a chance I completely messed up the math, so if I did just go with it.  Okay let’s do a fake lottery to see who wins; Broncos, Panthers, and Redskins.  Those are the top 3 picks.  Then after the Redskins pick the Bills would go and it would follow the order.  Where it really gets sticky is if one of the top three teams are not picked.  If the lottery winners were 49ers, Giants, Lions, then after the Lions’ pick the Panthers would be on the clock.

Okay does this all make sense?  No?  Good… I’m still a bit confused myself.  One last thing though, the lottery is only in the first round, the rest of the rounds are carried out like normal.

My assessment, I think it would be cool if the NFL went to a lottery system.  It would make leading up to the draft more interesting, plus it wouldn’t ‘reward’ the worse team in football with a shot at the best college player. (Salary cap aside)

Well what does everyone else think?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.