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Looking at ESPN analytics to project Bears’ 2024 draft picks

Looking at ESPN analytics to project Bears’ 2024 draft picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

ESPN recently updated its Football Power Index, or FPI, for the 2023 NFL season to project each team’s regular season record, playoff odds and Super Bowl chances.

ESPN’s FPI aims to measure a team’s strength relative to the rest of the league, and project how a team will fare as the season advances. Each team is given a number score, which represents the expected point margin for that team, against an average opponent at a neutral site.

Currently, the Bears have a -2.4 FPI, meaning they’re projected to lose by just less than a field goal to an average opponent. That’s tied for 23rd in the league.

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The index has the Bears’ record at 7.8-9.2, which would place them below the Detroit Lions (9.4-7.6 projected record) and the Minnesota Vikings (8.6-8.3 projection). Yet, the Bears have projected a higher finish than the Green Bay Packers (7.4-9.6).

Looking at the projections from a different lens, you can see how the projections believe the 2024 NFL draft order will unfold.

Remember, the Bears own their first-round pick and that of the Carolina Panthers from the trade down for the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. They also own the Philadelphia Eagles’ fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft.

Taking the best odds of each team to win their respective division, then filling in the wild card spots of the remaining teams with the best playoff chances, the Panthers are projected to miss the playoffs and own the 11th-worst record in the NFL.

If both teams miss the playoffs and finish exactly where ESPN analytics projects their record to land, the Bears would own the No. 11 and no. 12 picks in the upcoming 2024 NFL draft.

Assuming the Eagles make, and possibly win, the Super Bowl based on the same projections, the Bears would earn either the final or penultimate selection in the fourth round, along with their own, of course.

One caveat to the projections remains. The Panthers are arguably the worst division in football in the NFC South. As it stands, the New Orleans Saints (42.2 percent) and Atlanta Falcons (26.8 percent) own better odds than the Panthers (22.2 percent) of winning the division.

If the Panthers qualify for the playoffs — despite maybe owning a record worthy of a top-10 pick — it would send the Bears’ draft pick to the 20s, at best No. 19.

The teams who don’t make the playoffs get picks 1-18 based on who owns the worst record. Teams eliminated in the wild card rounds get picks 19-24. Those eliminated in divisional get picks 25-28, conference championships 29-30 and Super Bowl teams pick no. 31 and no. 32.

ESPN gave the Panthers a 34.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, a 16.3 percent chance of making the second round, a 5.6 percent shot at the NFC title game, a 1.7 percent chance at the Super Bowl and a 0.6 percent chance of winning it.

The projection obviously isn’t a perfect depiction of how the upcoming season will go. But it serves as a keen insight into how the Bears’ draft capital in 2024 could unfold in order.

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