Doug Pederson’s job is to try to win games. That’s the job of his players too.
But that doesn’t mean discerning fans have to root for it.
Because with their 23-17 loss to the Seahawks on Monday night, the Eagles are now in line to land the No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft and could end up with an even better pick if this season continues to spiral.
Here’s the updated draft order for non-playoff teams, via Tankathon:
The Giants, who are in first place in the NFC East, would be in line for the 19th pick if they suffer a first-round playoff exit. So we’re talking about a 13-pick disparity between the Eagles and Giants right now, two teams with very similar records.
So forget about trying to win the division. The Eagles need that draft pick.
And when you look at the teams with higher draft picks than the Eagles right now, there’s reason to think the Eagles have a real chance to end up with a top-five pick. No, the Jets and Jaguars are unlikely to leave their positions at 1 and 2, but there are plenty of reasons to think the Eagles could end up with a better pick than the Bengals, Cowboys or Chargers.
Of these four teams, the Eagles have the second-toughest strength of schedule, which obviously helps when we’re talking about trying to land a better draft pick.
Let’s look at the remaining schedules and remaining strengths of schedule:
Bengals: @MIA (7-4), vs. DAL (3-8), vs. PIT (10-0), vs. @HOU (4-7), vs. BAL (6-4)
It’s hard to imagine the Bengals pulling out these games without Joe Burrow but could they beat the Cowboys? Sure. The rest of the games seem much tougher, including that game against the Texans who have been playing much better recently.
Strength of schedule: .566
Cowboys: @BAL (6-4), @CIN (2-8-1), vs. SFO (5-6), vs. PHI (3-7-1), @NYG (4-7)
Of the group, the Cowboys have the easiest remaining schedule by far. They could really pull out a few wins … at least on paper. The Ravens game is their toughest remaining game but Baltimore is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak right now and it might not have Lamar Jackson for that one.
Strength of schedule: .389
Chargers: vs. NE (5-6), vs. ATL (4-7), @LVR (6-5), vs. DEN (4-7), @KC (10-1)
Unlike the Bengals, at least the Chargers still have their exciting rookie quarterback, so maybe they have a better chance to pull off a win. There’s not an easy win in here. Kind of like the Texans, the Falcons have been much better recently. In past years, there’s a chance Kansas City rests their starters in that Week 17 game but this year they might be playing for the all-important No. 1 seed.
Strength of schedule: .527
Eagles: @ GNB (8-3), vs. NOR (9-2), @ARI (6-5), @DAL (3-8), vs. WAS (4-7)
Aside from the Bengals, the Eagles have the tougher remaining strength of schedule. Could they pull off an upset in one of the next three weeks? Maybe. The Saints likely won’t have Drew Brees and the Cardinals have hit a slump. But the key might be that Week 16 game against the Cowboys. The Eagles kinda need to lose that one if they want to leapfrog them in draft order.
Strength of schedule: .545
If you’re skeptical about the Eagles’ landing a top-10 draft pick because you think Howie Roseman is still going to be the guy picking, I get it. But it’s a lot harder to screw up a draft pick the higher you pick. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but the Eagles will have a chance to land a really good player, especially if those teams ahead of them start taking quarterbacks.
As a reminder, in the modern era, the Eagles have had just nine picks in the top 10 and just six in the top five. The Eagles have had just three top-10 picks in the last two decades! And the last time they picked this high they had to make two huge trades to get up there to take Carson Wentz:
2016: No. 2, Carson Wentz
2013: No. 4, Lane Johnson
2000: No. 6, Corey Simon
1999: No. 2, Donovan McNabb
1984: No. 4, Kenny Jackson
1973: No. 3, Jerry Sisemore
1973: No. 6, Charle Young
1971: No. 5, Richard Harris
1970: No. 6, Steve Zabel
The last time the Eagles had a top-10 pick on merit was in 2013 when they landed Johnson at No. 4. While Johnson has missed games because of suspension and injury in his career, when he’s been on the field, he’s a Pro Bowl player and a cornerstone of the franchise. That pick certainly worked out.
The Eagles — or really their fans — haven’t been in a situation like this is a while. But that draft pick is starting to look pretty sweet. Even if you can’t root against the Eagles on Sundays, you can at least take solace in the fact that a good draft pick is coming every time they lose.
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