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December 27, 2015

Eagles should 'tank' their final game, but they probably won't

Eagles NFL
122715SamHinkie Matt Slocum/AP

Hinkie died for this.

During the 2014 NFL Draft, the Eagles had targeted six players -- Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyle Fuller, C.J. Mosley, Brandin Cooks, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Eagles were selecting 22nd.

Barr was picked 9th overall by the Vikings. Beckham went 12th to the Giants, Fuller went 14th to the Bears, and Mosley went 17th to the Ravens. With the Cardinals on the clock at 20, the only players left were Cooks and Clinton-Dix. However, the Saints traded up with the Cardinals, giving up their 3rd round pick to move up from 27 to 20. They selected Cooks, the Packers took Clinton-Dix at 21, and the Eagles were left without any of the six players they had targeted.

So, they traded back to 26 and drafted Marcus Smith, who finally registered his first solo tackle on the regular defense a week ago. The moral of the story -- Draft position is kind of a big deal.

The Eagles' 2015 season is over as they sit at 6-9 among the NFL's bad teams. Here's a look at the NFL's draft order, if the season ended today:

 PickTeam SOS 
 1Titans 11 0.487 
 2Browns 11 0.536 
 3Chargers 11 0.518 
 4Ravens 10 0.518 
 5Cowboys 10 0.540 
 649ers 10 0.549 
 7Jaguars 0.464 
 8Dolphins 0.473 
 9Saints 0.513 
 10Lions 0.531 
 11Bears 0.540 
 12Eagles 0.513 
 13Buccaneers 0.478 
 14Giants 0.496 
 15Colts 0.504 
 16Bills 0.518 
 17Rams 0.531 
 18Raiders 0.509 
 19Falcons 0.478 
 20Jets 0.442 

As you can see above, there are 16 teams that have anywhere between four and seven wins. Those teams represent the Eagles' "competition" for better draft position. The difference between winning or losing to the Giants in a meaningless Week 17 game could be picking in the top 10, or in the late teens. That could mean the difference between drafting an elite offensive line prospect, or a quarterback, or maybe a stud pass rusher. 

Or ending up with another Marcus Smith.

Beyond draft position, exposing some of the Eagles' more important players could be devastating. For example, the Eagles have an extremely important decision to make on Sam Bradford this offseason. No matter what you think of Bradford as a quarterback, he does no good to anybody if he tears his ACL again. A similar argument could be made for Jason Peters, who battled injuries all season and had a down year. If the Eagles have any hope of trading him to a contender in "win now" mode for a draft pick, his value will be non-existent if he suffers a notable injury.

A season ago, the Eagles played the Giants in a meaningless Week 17 game, and won. They ended up picking 20th instead of 18th, had they lost. This year, draft position stakes are higher, but it appears Chip Kelly has every intention of winning another meaningless game in New Jersey.

"We have the opportunity to go play one more game and we are going to go try to win it," said Kelly.

Because... Pride?

I would argue the pride ship sailed last night against the Redskins. Put in the Sanchise.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski
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