2017 NFL Draft: Can 49ers Steal Top Pick from Browns?
Can the San Francisco 49ers steal the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft from the Cleveland Browns? Going winless seems unlikely, but so does winning for either.
We are through 13 weeks of the 2016 NFL season and the race for the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is down to the same two teams we thought would be battling before the season started: the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.
With only a single victory separating these two losing teams, who will finish on top of the draft? Can the 49ers steal the top pick from Cleveland? Can either team use the number one pick wisely?
The Browns hold just a one-game “lead” on San Francisco through thirteen weeks. The two teams are so much worse than the entire rest of the NFL that whoever gets the third pick in next year’s draft will seem like a team from another stratosphere, as if we were in the NBA and a borderline playoff team got a lucky ping-pong-ball bounce for the third selection.
The first question is who will get the draft’s first pick between Cleveland and San Fran. In my opinion, the Browns’ best chance at a victory was this coming week against Cincinnati—but that was before the Bengals demolished Philadelphia in Week 13. Now I’m not so sure. I’d still give that the edge with it being a division game and an opponent Cleveland is familiar with.
The 49ers, on the other hand, looked absolutely terrible in Week 13 after what appeared to be three pretty good outings. Colin Kaepernick was benched, and now they are back to square one, though with two solid chances of winning a game before the year is out. San Francisco plays the Jets and the Rams. It would appear to have the more favorable schedule, as well as the one-win lead over Cleveland.
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If we do encounter a top-pick tiebreaker scenario, it comes down to whichever team played the easier strength of schedule based on opponent record. But it seems like the Browns could ultimately grab a win and still finish “ahead” of a two-win San Francisco club.
Do you see any way the Browns don’t grab this top pick? And more importantly, if Cleveland does indeed pick first, does it look to continue its new Moneyball ways and trade the pick? Or does it continue its historic incompetence by selecting another quarterback bound for failure? The #YearOfCleveland is over in three weeks; long live #GodHatesCleveland.
I have a hard time imagining either the Browns or 49ers winning a football game during the remainder of this season. San Francisco snagged its lone victory in Week 1, the most unpredictable week of games, with a full month of preparation against an opponent who had just transplanted to a new city. I give them very little credit for such a win. That being said, each team has a real shot at winning at least once over the final month of games.
The 49ers looked like they could win a few, before getting trounced by an abysmal Chicago team. Playing at home against the lowly New York Jets is a solid opportunity for their second victory, but I don’t believe they get it. Playing down in Los Angeles against the Rams on Christmas Eve is the most likely game in which San Francisco wins. They are not beating the Falcons or Seahawks, unless Seattle rests everyone for the final game of the regular season.
Cleveland has to win at least once, right? I think playing at home versus San Diego is their best chance at victory. The Chargers have given away so many games in the fourth quarter, I could see it happening against the Browns. But ultimately this is Cleveland’s pick. The Browns will have the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They likely keep it, even if a tie-breaker scenario develops. Can they avoid selecting a quarterback first overall?
I truly want to believe that Cleveland can act from a place of confidence and not desperation. That they can pick the best player available, one that can make their team significantly better next season. That the Browns choose anyone other than one of the second round quarterbacks being considered at the top of the draft. I don’t believe a signal caller is worthy of a top-10 pick this season. If Cleveland keeps its top pick, they likely select one. Perhaps trading back is the Browns best option, despite their inability to make solid decisions with any kind of consistency.