Sunday's much-mockable meeting between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns brings together two forlorn franchises, both of whom are expected to be in contention for the top pick in the 2018 draft, for a game dubbed by five-year-olds as "The Toilet Bowl." (That the Jets are .500 won't taint this tilt's stink.)
Both fan bases, and likely both front offices, see this season as something of a lost cause, as neither team is expected to make the postseason, and would rather see their teams "tank", for lack of a better word, to gain prime position to select the player/quarterback of their choosing.
"It's always fun for fans and the media to have that narrative because it gives you guys something to talk about," Thomas told Manish Mehta of the Daily News. "And for fans, I'm sure they enjoy the optimism of looking toward the future if they don't think that the present is bright.
"But it seems like every year the player that you want to suck for ends up dropping and not being the top pick... or what you expected."
Take it from Thomas, who in his time in Cleveland has seen the Browns pick inside the top 10 five times -- and that's not even counting the times the franchise traded out of top 10 (cough, Julio Jones, cough). With those five selections, Cleveland picked cornerback Joe Haden (No. 7) in 2010 and Myles Garrett (No. 1) in 2017. But the team also picked Trent Richardson (No. 3) in 2012, Barkevious Mingo (No. 6) in 2013 and Justin Gilbert (No. 8) in 2014. Two of those dudes are out of the league, and Mingo is on his third franchise in as many years.
"If you look historically at the draft at quarterbacks in the top 10," Thomas said, "about half of them flame out very quickly. So, there's no guarantee in the NFL that if you've got the No. 1 pick or you've got a top-five pick, that you're going to be able to draft a franchise quarterback. So, I'm not sure that the appropriate strategy is just to tank for a quarterback."