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Imagining NBA draft lottery results for the 2021 NFL Draft order and the impact on the Cowboys

Take a fantasy trip to a new-style NFL draft.

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

At present moment the 2021 NFL Draft is well in the rearview mirror. The Dallas Cowboys selected 11 total players highlighted by the newest number 11 in linebacker Micah Parsons, and overall committed to rebuilding a defense that struggled mightily last season.

Across the world of sports many are currently reacting to the results from Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery. Obviously the way that the NBA handles its non-playoff teams is very different than the way that the NFL does, but it does manage to make things interesting.

There are likely no NFL fans who would prefer a lottery system as opposed to a true worst-is-first style draft order, but what if there was a lottery involved in the NFL draft?

For the purposes of this exercise we are going to have to be a bit creative given that we are comparing two different sports. Here are the ground rules for our hypothetical:

  • The original 2021 NFL Draft order is what we are looking at given that any hypothetical (although we are assigning the third-overall pick to the Miami Dolphins even though it originally belonged to the Houston Texans)
  • While some NBA teams had equal odds for this year’s lottery we listed them per the Association’s breakdown formula
  • The chart reads (from left to right) original 2021 NFL Draft order, their corresponding NBA team in terms of lottery odds for this year, how the 2021 NBA Draft order actually wound up, and what the then-imagined NFL draft order would look like if they were the teams plugged in instead

Imagined NFL Draft based off of NBA lottery results

Pick Number Original NFL Draft Order Original NBA Lottery Odds (%) Lottery Result NBA Draft Lottery Result NFL Draft
Pick Number Original NFL Draft Order Original NBA Lottery Odds (%) Lottery Result NBA Draft Lottery Result NFL Draft
1 Jacksonville Jaguars Houston Rockets (14) Detroit Pistons New York Jets
2 New York Jets Detroit Pistons (14) Houston Rockets Jacksonville Jaguars
3 Miami Dolphins Orland Magic (14) Cleveland Cavaliers Cincinnati Bengals
4 Atlanta Falcons Oklahoma City Thunder (11.5) Toronto Raptors Detroit Lions
5 Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Cavaliers (11.5) Orlando Magic Miami Dolphins
6 Philadelphia Eagles Minnesota Timberwolves (9) Oklahoma City Thunder Atlanta Falcons
7 Detroit Lions Toronto Raptors (7.5) Minnesota Timberwolves Philadelphia Eagles
8 Carolina Panthers Chicago Bulls (6) Chicago Bulls Carolina Panthers
9 Denver Broncos Sacramento Kings (4.5) Sacramento Kings Denver Broncos
10 Dallas Cowboys New Orleans Pelicans (4.5) New Orleans Pelicans Dallas Cowboys
11 New York Giants Charlotte Hornets (4.5) Charlotte Hornets New York Giants
12 San Francisco 49ers San Antonio Spurs (1.8) San Antonio Spurs San Francisco 49ers
13 Los Angeles Chargers Indiana Pacers (1.7) Indiana Pacers Los Angeles Chargers
14 Minnesota Vikings Golden State Warriors (0.5) Golden State Warriors Minnesota Vikings

The Dallas Cowboys aren’t impacted at all in terms of their original pick. The Cowboys held the 10th overall selection which they wound up trading to the Philadelphia Eagles on draft night, but if this lottery hypothetical were to exist that might not have ever happened.

Consider that the pick that Dallas ultimately took Micah Parsons with (number 12 overall) technically passed hands three different times. It originally belonged to the San Francisco 49ers, who traded it to the Miami Dolphins when they moved up to number three overall to take what wound up being Trevor Lawrence. It was Miami who traded up from 12 to number six with Philadelphia right after that San Francisco trade which led to the positioning we entered draft night with.

In this hypothetical it is the Cincinnati Bengals who hold the number three overall pick and not the Miami Dolphins. Would San Francisco have still traded with them like they did Miami? The Bengals took a skill player in wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but perhaps they would not have had the creativity to jump back up into the top six like Miami did (they wound up taking Jaylen Waddle). Perhaps Cincinnati would have been too in love with say Kyle Pitts to move from there which would have opened up another possibility for the Atlanta Falcons two picks later.

Obviously these results are merely hypothetical, but they are fun to consider and talk about. So much of the draft and really football in general (also life in general) can be boiled down to one moment in time and if it had gone any other direction a whole different timeline with multiple different factors would unfold.