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ESPN: Browns have 90.8% chance of landing the top pick

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2016 DealBook Conference Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The New York Times

This week, ESPN posted a projection of which teams will finish with the top 10 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft. They used their own metric called the Football Power Index (FPI) to compile the projections; they say that the FPI takes into account “current records, strength of future opponents and the NFL's draft-order tiebreaker (reverse strength of schedule), among other data points.”

Here is the order of the top 10 that ESPN is projecting:

  1. Cleveland Browns
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. New York Jets
  6. Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)
  7. Cincinnati Bengals
  8. Carolina Panthers
  9. Arizona Cardinals
  10. Indianapolis Colts

The FPI says that the Browns have a 90.7% chance to get the No. 1 overall pick. The 49ers are next at 7.1%, and then the Bears (1.2%) and Jaguars (0.9%) round out the rest. The metric also adds that Cleveland has a 100% chance of getting a Top 5 pick — I’d think that’d be more like 99.9%, considering it’s theoretically possible for them to win four straight games, but whatever.

Seven teams have started 0-12 since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Of the previous six, only one of them won game No. 13. Can the Browns do anything to stop the bleeding? Perhaps. FiveThirtyEight.com gives them no better than a 27 percent chance to win any of their remaining games, and they remain the heavy favorites for the No. 1 overall pick.

ESPN also wonders if the marginally improved play of Colin Kaepernick will convince the 49ers that they don’t need to draft a quarterback.