NFL Draft could end painful era for one team

    The Cleveland Browns have a chance to reverse an extended history of losing

    More stories from Scott Procter


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    With the first and fourth picks in this month’s draft, the Browns could get much better very quickly.

    The Cleveland Browns are in an enviable position for the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft later this month. Not only do they hold the first and fourth overall picks, but they also sit in a position to change the entire trajectory of their franchise with the right two selections.

    As most football fans may know, the Browns have certainly earned their fortune in this year’s draft through their continued misfortunes on the field. Cleveland is fresh off a 0-16 season, which is essentially a culmination of the ten seasons prior.

    Their last playoff win came in 1994 and their last winning season — with a record of 10-6 — was in 2007. Since then, the Browns have gone an abysmal 38-122. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, at the halfway point of this past season, Cleveland had lost three out of every four games for the last nine seasons, according to The Washington Post.

    If you still don’t fully grasp the disaster of an NFL franchise the Browns have become, their current head coach, Hue Jackson, has a 1-31 record.

    Perhaps the biggest reason for the Brown’s long drought of winning stems from their inability to find a steady, serviceable quarterback in a league driven by the position. Since the last time

    Cleveland had a Pro-Bowl quarterback under center in 1993, they have had 32 different starters. That type of turnover at the most important position on the team is a recipe for dysfunction — something the Browns know very well.

    The NFL Draft, on April 26, will provide the perfect opportunity for Cleveland to right their wrongs of the past and finally be mentioned with something other than losing.

    The Browns will have their choice of a franchise quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. The likely candidates include Josh Allen, University of Wyoming, Sam Darnold, University of Southern California, and Josh Rosen, University of California-Los Angeles.

    ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Allen going No. 1 to the Browns, and I agree with his decision. Allen arguably has the largest upside in the draft while the other two quarterbacks may have more storied college careers. Standing 6’5” tall, Allen has the NFL size and likely won’t be required to step into a starting role right away: Cleveland acquired veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills last month. Taylor is expected to be the starter and lead the Browns to victories for the time being while Allen (or whoever they choose) sits and learns the NFL game.

    While the No. 1 overall pick is of utmost importance, Cleveland’s No. 4 overall pick may have the most impact right away. Saquon Barkley, who most regard as the best talent in this year’s draft, may still be waiting to be selected when the fourth pick rolls around. Kiper Jr. of ESPN projects three quarterbacks going with the first three picks of the draft, so the Browns could end up with the best quarterback (in their opinion) and the draft’s best talent in the running back from Penn State.

    Cleveland also made another blockbuster trade last month when they acquired wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins, the league’s leader in receptions in 2017. With a new, established quarterback in Taylor, a top-target in Landry and an influx of young talent coming from the draft, the Browns may go from worst to first sooner than most think.