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2021 NFL Draft Order: Cowboys currently with 11th overall pick based strictly on record, with good chance to go higher

Are Cowboys the worst team in the NFL?

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Eagles suck.

But at least they can score points.

The Cowboy suck and now they can’t score points.

Which means the idea of possibly backing into the playoffs as the NFC East division winner should be put to rest.

So instead of writing about playoff odds, which I regularly do in this slot, I’ll flip the script and start talking about draft spots.

Technically, if the draft were held today, the 2-4 Cowboys would be picking 19th overall. By virtue of currently holding the NFC East lead, the Cowboys would be considered one of the 14 playoff teams (again, if-the-draft-were-held-today), and would be slotted as the lowest-ranked playoff participant, which translates to the 19th pick.

Going by the quality of their recent play, you might feel like the Cowboys should have a Top 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and they may well be just a few games (and losses) away from that.

The draft order is based on a team’s regular season record and then overall strength of schedule. If those are the same, conference record and then division record are used as tiebreakers. If none of those results in a tie-breaker, a coin flip at the NFL Scouting Combine determines the final draft order.

Going strictly by their 2-4 record and .333 W/L percentage, the Cowboys are currently in line for the 11th overall pick (if-the-draft-were-held-today).

Here’s the current 2021 NFL Draft order based strictly on W/L record (with the 2019 strength of schedule from the appropriately named Tankathon.com) for all 14 teams with a losing record.

Pick Team W L T W-L% SOS
1 NY Jets 0 6 0 .000 .589
2 Washington 1 5 0 .167 .489
3 NY Giants 1 5 0 .167 .527
4 Atlanta 1 5 0 .167 .568
5 Jacksonville 1 5 0 .167 .572
6 Minnesota 1 5 0 .167 .573
7 Houston (-> MIA) 1 5 0 .167 .606
8 LA Chargers 1 4 0 .200 .472
9 Philadelphia 1 4 1 .250 .505
10 Cincinnati 1 4 1 .250 .527
11 Dallas 2 4 0 .333 .431
12 Detroit 2 3 0 .400 .511
13 New England 2 3 0 .400 .511
14 Denver 2 3 0 .400 .545

The Cowboys travel to Washington next week, and there’s a decent chance they’ll move up into the Top 10 in the NFL draft order after the game.

And here’s the kicker: If the Jets somehow manage to win two games this year, the Cowboys even have a shot at the No. 1 overall draft pick!

Trust me that my excitement knows no bounds as I write this.

Back in January, I wrote about what you can expect from an 8-8 team that starts the next season with a new coach, and the results were not promising.

You may not remember this specific piece of Cowboys trivia, but the last time the Cowboys changed their head coach after an 8-8 season, they ended up with a 5-11 record the next year.

Between the introduction of the salary cap in 1994 (to use a random but relevant data point in league history) and 2019, 16 teams fired/exchanged their head coach after an 8-8 season, and there’s some sobering stuff to be gleaned from looking at the historical record of those coaching changes.

- Only four of the 16 teams (25%) improved on their record the following year.

- Three teams (19%) were stuck with a Garrett-like 8-8 record the following year.

- Nine teams (56%) finished the following season with a worse record, despite the coaching change. Yikes!

Here’s the full data set.

Wins in season after going 8-8 and changing the head coach, 1994-2019
Wins 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No. of teams 2 2 3 -- 2 3 3 1

Here we are, 10 months later, and we are wondering just how much worse it can get.

As you look at the range of W/L records in the table above, where do you think the Cowboys will land this year?