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2016 NFL Draft Order: Cowboys Lock Up Top 8 Pick, Could Go as High As Second Overall

With just one game left on the 2015 schedule, the Cowboys draft spot remains very fluid.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As it stands today, the 4-11 Cowboys hold the fourth overall draft pick. But the final game of the season can still see the Cowboys move up or down the draft order. Here are the teams currently picking first through eighth, based on the full 16-game opponent strength of schedule:

1. TEN, 3-12 (.492)
2. CLE, 3-12 (.536)
3. SD, 4-11 (.523)
4. DAL, 4-11 (.529)
5. SF, 4-11 (.552)
6. JAC 5-10 (.471)
7. MIA, 5-10 (.475)
8. BAL, 5-10 (.506)

The ninth team in the draft order, the Buccaneers, already has six wins. So even in a scenario where the Cowboys win their season finale against the Redskins, they would end up 5-11 and wouldn't drop below the eighth overall spot.

There's also a chance the Cowboys could move up to the second overall pick, but that would require a lot of things to fall the Cowboys' way.

  1. The Cowboys have to lose against the Redskins. That can be done, even if the Redskins bench Kirk Cousins and half their starting offense.
  2. The Chargers have to win in Denver. That's a tall order, but in a season of wacky outcomes, why not?
  3. The Browns have to beat the visiting Steelers. The Steelers lost against the Ravens, why not against the Browns as well?
  4. But even if all of that happens, the Cowboys would still have an opponent strength of Schedule (SOS) of .533, while the Browns would be at .531, and keep their spot ahead of the Cowboys, so the Cowboys need another game to go their way: The Jets have to win in Buffalo. If that happens, in addition to everything outlined above, the Cowboys' SOS would drop to .5328, while the Browns' SOS would climb to .5331.

Losses by the Packers and Seahawks would further improve the Cowboys' SOS, but with the Cowboys' luck this season, there's no way the scenario described above actually happens. Even if the Cowboys were to lose against the Redskins next week, they'll very likely stay locked into the fourth overall pick.

But what happens if they win against the Redskins?

Ultimately, that depends on what the four teams below the Cowboys (SF, JAC, MIA, BAL) do in Week 17. If all four lose, the Cowboys drop all the way to the eighth spot, based on their strong SOS. A win by any of the four teams equals a one-spot improvement in the draft order for the Cowboys.

But do you think this Cowboys team can pull off a win against the Redskins, even a Redskins team resting a bunch of its starters?

Here's the full draft order with the results of the Sunday games included (Strength of schedule based on full 16-game schedule)

Order Team Record Opp. Strength Of Schedule
1 Tennessee Titans 3-12 0.492
2 Cleveland Browns 3-12 0.536
3 San Diego Chargers 4-11 0.523
4 Dallas Cowboys 4-11 0.529
5 San Francisco 49ers 4-11 0.552
6 Jacksonville Jaguars 5-10 0.471
7 Miami Dolphins 5-10 0.475
8 Baltimore Ravens 5-10 0.506
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-9 0.483
10 New York Giants 6-9 0.492
11 New Orleans Saints 6-9 0.508
12 Philadelphia Eagles 6-9 0.513
13 Detroit Lions 6-9 0.536
14 Chicago Bears 6-9 0.544
15 Indianapolis Colts 7-8 0.498
16 Buffalo Bills 7-8 0.510
17 Oakland Raiders 7-8 0.511
18 St. Louis Rams 7-8 0.527
19 Atlanta Falcons 8-7 0.471
20 Pittsburgh Steelers 9-6 0.511
21 Washington Redskins 8-7 0.471
22 Houston Texans 8-7 0.498
23 Seattle Seahawks 9-6 0.527
24 New York Jets 10-5 0.438
25 Kansas City Chiefs 10-5 0.494
26 Minnesota Vikings 10-5 0.510
27 Green Bay Packers 10-5 0.527
28 Denver Broncos 10-4 0.506
29 Cincinnati Bengals 11-3 0.473
30 New England Patriots (forfeited pick)
12-3 0.460
31 Arizona Cardinals 13-2 0.469
32 Carolina Panthers 14-1 0.442

Reminder: These are the rules for determining the draft order for the 2016 draft:

  1. Teams that make the playoffs receive the last 12 draft picks from position 21-32, ordered by which round of the playoffs they were eliminated.
  2. Teams that didn't make the playoffs are ordered by their regular season W/L record.
  3. The tiebreaker for teams with identical records is the Strength of Schedule or Opponent W/L record. For the draft order, the lower SOS results in an earlier pick.
  4. If the SOS does not resolve a tie, a division and then conference tiebreaker is used. If that fails as well, draft order is determined by a coin toss during the combine.

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