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Updated 2021 NFL draft order: Detroit Lions bust into top 10

The Lions are in the top 10, and could very well break into the top five.

2020 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by NFL via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are beyond hope when it comes to the 2020 NFL playoff race. They may only be two games behind mathematically, but with the schedule and overall talent of this team, it is beyond a pipe dream. Even a morale boost from a head coach firing won’t be enough to give this team beyond a fraction of a percentage chance at making the postseason.

So it’s time to look at draft order, and the outlook there is much more promising for this franchise. After losing four of their last five games, the Lions are now holding a top-10 pick again. As of now, the Lions are currently in the ninth spot of the draft order, with the potential to move much higher.

Here’s a look at the updated draft order after (most) of Week 12. Remember, the tiebreaker is not head-to-head, but overall strength of schedule. The strength of schedule listed below is according to Tankathon and factors in the entire 17-week schedule, not just games played thus far.

  1. Jets: 0-11 (.591 strength of schedule)
  2. Jaguars: 1-10 (.555)
  3. Bengals: 2-8-1 (.538)
  4. Cowboys: 3-8 (.486)
  5. Chargers: 3-8 (.492)
  6. Eagles: 3-7-1 (.526)
  7. Panthers: 4-8 (.534)
  8. Football Team: 4-7 (.466)
  9. Lions: 4-7 (.506)
  10. Falcons: 4-7 (.533)
  11. Texans: 4-7 (.549)
  12. Broncos: 4-7 (.565)
  13. Bears: 5-6 (.500)
  14. Vikings: 5-6 (.500)
  15. Patriots: 5-6 (.509)
  16. 49ers: 5-6 (.531)

The Lions are obviously in a pretty good spot right now. They’re just a single game outside of the No. 4 pick, and their .506 strength of schedule puts them in a fairly decent place to jump a spot or two in the upcoming weeks.

The great news for them is that the three NFC East teams ahead of them are very much in the playoff race and have something to play for. Also, several of those teams still play each other, so someone in the division is going to win games. The Washington Football Team has one more division game (Eagles), the Eagles have two more (Cowboys, Washington) and the Cowboys still have to play the Eagles and Giants.

However, Detroit should be concerned about some teams below them, too. The Bears, for example, have lost five straight games. If Detroit beats them this week, Chicago will likely jump them in draft order due to a slightly easier schedule.

Overall, though, it appears the Lions will likely finish with a top 10 pick, even with a win or two in the final five games. If they lose out, a top-five pick is very much a possibility. That would be the first time the Lions have had back-to-back top five picks in the draft since the 2009/2010 drafts.