In the wake of the Browns' gut-wrenching 33-27 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, the NFL's most hard-luck franchise could be on its way to having its choice of any quarterback it wants next spring. The 2016 draft order won't be established for weeks to come, but if the top of the order as it stands Tuesday holds, Cleveland will have the draft's No. 2 pick behind the Tennessee Titans. And with the Titans having just drafted Marcus Mariota No. 2 overall earlier this year, Tennessee will be looking in any direction but quarterback with its first-round pick in 2016.
Cleveland, by contrast, could be compelled to invest another first-round pick in a quarterback just two years after drafting Johnny Manziel No. 22 overall. Manziel's off-field behavior has been a continuing problem for the Browns, such that he was relegated to third-string status for Monday's game against the Ravens. Starter Josh McCownbroke his collarbone in the loss, and is out for the season. Cleveland averages just 19.4 points per game, 28th in the NFL.
So who might be available to the Browns? We know a top senior like Michigan State's Connor Cook will be available, but the field is not yet established, as underclassmen have until a Jan. 18 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility. Two of the best QB talents in college football include Memphis' Paxton Lynch and Cal's Jared Goff -- they're juniors that have yet to announce their intentions for the 2016 draft. It remains to be seen if the 2016 quarterback class includes anyone, underclassman or otherwise, who merits an early first-round choice.
Tennessee and Cleveland share the NFL's worst record at 2-9, and schedule strength is used as a draft-order tiebreaker for like records. The weaker schedule results in the higher pick, and Tennessee currently holds an edge for the No. 1 pick because its schedule has been slightly weaker than Cleveland's.