Football Outsiders are buying what the Cowboys are selling. That is if their early record projections can be believed. Earlier this week, ESPN's Todd McShay released his 2017 NFL mock draft, but the mock is not what's so interesting here.
The draft order that McShay used was from Football Outsiders early projected records for 2016.
The Cowboys? Picking 25th.
McShay is projecting the Cowboys to draft Mitch Leidner out of Minnesota (59.5 completion rate and 14-11 TD-INT ratio in 2015), a quarterback that was so bad last season that he got benched for a freshman - but that's a topic for a different conversation.
The 25th overall pick means Football Outsiders believes the Cowboys are playoff-bound, with the fourth-best record in the NFC behind only the Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks, which would make them the No. 3 seed in the NFC.
Football Outsiders haven't officially published their season projections yet, but it's a good bet that they are looking for a more even distribution of injuries (not just to the best player on the team like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Orlando Scandrick), plus a more dominant ground game than we saw last season.
But as positive as they appear to be about the Cowboys, their projection for the rest of the NFC East is a disaster; the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles (if they had a first-round pick) are all projected to get draft picks in the top seven.
Here's FO's full projection of all 32 draft picks:
|6||Browns (from Eagles)||17||28||Seahawks|
Going by the records of the 2015 teams with the equivalent picks, the Giants in this scenario would finish the 2016 season with a 4-12 record, while the Redskins and Eagles would both finish 5-11. The Vikings had the third seed in the NFC last year with an 11-5 record, so it looks like the Cowboys would run away with the division in this scenario.
According to the draft order above, the NFC playoff standings would look as follows:
5) Seahawks (wildcard)
6) Vikings (wildcard)
In this scenario, the Cowboys would host the Vikings in the wildcard round, and then, assuming they win, would have to travel to Green Bay for the divisional round in a repeat of the 2014 playoffs. And perhaps this time, somebody can get to Aaron Rodgers, somebody won't fumble the ball, and somebody will rule a caught ball a catch.