Browns current NFL draft slot and the path to victory through futility
Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; A Cleveland Browns helmet sits on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of New England
With the loss today, the Cleveland Browns are now slotted to pick 5th in the NFL Draft and could be picking 4th before the day ends. The loss to the Chicago Bears while frustrating put the Browns at 4-10 while the Minnesota Vikings came out and stunned the Philadelphia Eagles which moved them to 4-9-1. The Vikings are expected to be a competitor for the quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft, so the result ends up being beneficial in that aspect of the team. With two weeks left in the year, the Browns have a chance to continue climbing and getting closer to hopefully ensuring they are in position to draft the franchise quarterback that can lead this team.
The Oakland Raiders are currently pegged to pick ahead of the Browns, but if both teams finish 4-12, the Raiders will fall behind the Browns on their strength of schedule and the two teams will flip spots. The Jacksonville Jaguars were dealing with a number of injuries and ultimately unable to defeat the Buffalo Bills. As a result, the Jaguars are still slated to pick ahead of the Browns, but have a winnable game against Tennessee next week if they can get some players healthy. Today, they were without Cecil Shorts, Jonathan Cyprien and Maurice Jones-Drew among the notables. While the Jaguars were a train wreck much of the season, they have really gotten hot lately, winning four of their past six games. If the Browns lose out and the Jaguars can beat the Titans or the Indianapolis Colts in the final week of the season, the Browns would be sitting with the 3rd pick in the draft.
The St. Louis Rams have the second pick courtesy of the Washington Redskins, though the Redskins did show signs of life with Kirk Cousins against Atlanta. They ultimately went for 2 at the end of the game, failed and missed, which was certainly not ideal. The Redskins and Cousins have the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants with their last two games. Dallas is unpredictable week to week and that game is in Washington, which could help. The last week of the season, they play the Giants who are playing terrible and have basically packed it in. The strengths of schedule will be close, so if the Redskins can eke out another win, they could end up behind the Browns.
At this point, the Houston Texans are sitting with the 1st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It would be a huge surprise if they did not take a quarterback; the question is which one. The Rams are a wildcard at this point, because they do have Sam Bradford and he has shown ability but had injuries. He is also on the hook for a ton of money, so the Rams could opt to address a franchise tackle to help keep him upright or they could move on from Bradford altogether. There are rumors that most everyone not named Jeff Fisher could be on the hot seat as the season comes to a close.
In the event that the Rams were to take tackle, the Browns would be in the position to pick up the second quarterback in the draft. This is presuming a field of Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel, and probably Blake Bortles and Brett Smith. It is unclear who the teams like who have the picks, but it does seem like Bridgewater and Carr will be the first two guys off of the board. If the Texans can grab Bridgewater, the Rams can take Jake Matthews and the Browns can get Derek Carr, that would be a pretty ideal scenario. It is an extremely difficult path, but given the way the Browns have lost the past few weeks, it certainly has a feeling of destiny. This all goes by the way side if the Browns go out and beat the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers though.
Call it anti-fan or whatever, 4-12 with the Browns somehow getting third pick (possibly second if everything goes perfectly) and their franchise quarterback without giving up any other picks, as difficult as it might be, sounds pretty good. As much as these wins that have been in their grasp and been lost have hurt, it would be nice if they all worked to the benefit of the team in the end. They are most definitely due when it comes to that department.