Projected 2018 NFL draft order: Browns take two-game lead in race for No. 1 pick

Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

Cleveland moved much closer to the No. 1 overall pick (89 percent chance now) thanks to the 49ers' victory over the Bears in Week 13, but the Texans' first-round pick that the Browns own also has a 60 percent chance of landing in the top 10.

Each week, the Football Power Index (FPI) projects the order of next year's draft by simulating the remainder of the season 10,000 times. Game probabilities are based largely on the model's ratings for individual teams, in addition to game location.

In some cases, the projected draft order will not match the current draft order. That's because FPI is considering the probability of outcomes that haven't yet occurred and, crucially, projecting strength of schedule at the end of the season, since that is a tiebreaker for draft order.

In addition to helping the Browns come closer to securing the top pick, the 49ers' win started to heat up the race for the No. 2 position in the draft. Though San Francisco still has the second-best average projected draft position -- and yes, FPI is accounting for the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo is now starting there -- the Giants and Colts continue to threaten.

Below is FPI's projected order for the 2018 draft, based on each team's average draft position in the simulations. While each team's current record is listed below, remember that the order is based on the record the model believes the teams will have after 16 games.

1. Cleveland Browns

Record: 0-12
Average draft position: 1.1
FPI chance to earn top pick: 89 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: >99 percent

Presumably, many in the Browns' front office have their eyes fixated on the likes of Southern California's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen to see if they all come out for this year's draft.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Record: 2-10
Average draft position: 2.9
FPI chance to earn top pick: 7 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 96 percent

It might not have been an offensive explosion, but Jimmy Garoppolo was solid in his debut with the 49ers, helping to bring San Francisco a narrow victory. It was over the Bears, but still. If he can keep that up and John Lynch can lock up the former Patriots' quarterback for the long term (or at least franchise him), then the 49ers will have every reason to trade this pick to the highest bidder in search of a QB.

3. New York Giants

Record: 2-10
Average draft position: 3.8
FPI chance to earn top pick: 3 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 85 percent

The Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese on Monday. While they may be an organization in disarray, a pick this high would surely be an enticing asset for any prospective general manager. With Eli Manning's time in New York possibly over after this year, the new GM could use this pick to find his replacement.

4. Indianapolis Colts

Record: 3-9
Average draft position: 4.1
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 81 percent

Though the Colts have three wins, FPI considers them to be the worst team in football going forward. In fact, it considers them to be a full field goal per game worse than the Browns. That's bad. They need help on both sides of the ball so they ought to just take the most talented player they can find or -- probably better yet -- trade down and plug a couple of holes.

5. Denver Broncos

Record: 3-9
Average draft position: 5.4
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 55 percent

Denver is tumbling fast and now ranks 24th in FPI. The Broncos moved up one position in this article after losing badly to the Dolphins last week, though their average draft position barely bests the Bears'. The Dolphins, for their efforts against Denver, moved out of the top 10.

6. Chicago Bears

Record: 3-9
Average draft position: 5.5
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 59 percent

After losing a game that FPI gave the Bears a 69 percent chance of winning, Chicago moved up from No. 7 last week to No. 6 this week. Much like the Colts, the Bears will likely be looking to improve somewhere other than quarterback. Perhaps they could look toward Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

7. New York Jets

Record: 5-7
Average draft position: 9.4
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 3 percent

After the Jets' hard-fought victory over the free-falling Chiefs on Sunday, QB Josh McCown said "Don't stop believing" in relation to the team's playoff chances. Sorry Josh, but FPI stopped believing a long time ago. It puts Gang Green's chances at 0.2 percent. Or, to put it another way, the same chance that BPI gives the Knicks of reaching the Eastern Conference finals as of Monday. It's not going to happen.

Though the Jets have the seventh-lowest average draft position, note that their average draft position is over 9.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 4-8
Average draft position: 9.5
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 8 percent

The Bucs rank 30th in expected points added per game on opponent's pass plays, so they could use some help against the aerial attack. Perhaps they could look here at Ohio State CB Denzel Ward, who had an interception against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

9. Arizona Cardinals

Record: 5-7
Average draft position: 9.5
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 5 percent

No, Blaine Gabbert likely won't be the answer for the Cardinals going forward. Just because he's played a little better (Total QBR this season: 43.5) than his career average (31.1) doesn't mean he's good. The Cardinals should be in the quarterback market, but if they don't have a veteran locked up before the draft and are picking ninth, they'll have to decide if they want to trade up, hope for a second-tier option or take a midround flier.

10. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans)

Record (Texans): 4-8
Average draft position: 10.1
FPI chance to earn top pick: <1 percent
FPI chance to earn top-5 pick: 5 percent

Just knowing what we know about the Browns' analytics-based front-office philosophy, don't be surprised if they trade down from this spot, much like they did last year with the Texans to the net this pick.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7); average draft position: 10.7
12. Miami Dolphins (5-7); 12.6
13. Oakland Raiders (6-6); 14.3
14. Dallas Cowboys (6-6); 14.5
15. Washington Redskins (5-7); 14.7
16. Buffalo Bills (6-6); 15.5
17. Green Bay Packers (6-6); 16.6
18. Detroit Lions (6-6); 17.0
19. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6); 18.9
20. Atlanta Falcons (7-5); 21.0
21. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) (6-6); 21.0
22. Baltimore Ravens (7-5); 23.0
23. Tennessee Titans (8-4); 23.1
24. Carolina Panthers (8-4); 23.4
25. Seattle Seahawks (8-4); 24.4
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4); 25.2
27. Los Angeles Rams (9-3); 25.6
28. New Orleans Saints (9-3); 27.2
29. Minnesota Vikings (10-2); 29.2
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2); 29.2
31. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2); 29.3
32. New England Patriots (10-2); 30.1