After multiple reports surfaced yesterday suggesting that a sprained MCL would keep Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota sidelined for the last two games of the season, head coach Mike Mularkey told the media that he hadn’t ruled out the rookie signal-caller for Week 17 yet, suggesting that Mariota will be re-evaluated next week.
That may be true, but it’s also true that’s it’s probably in the Titans’ best interests to shut down Mariota for the year. If Tennessee loses its final two games, the team will almost certainly land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and adding another marquee prospect to complement 2015’s second overall pick would significantly benefit the franchise in the long term.
While the Titans are currently in the driver’s seat for that first overall pick, the “race” isn’t over yet. Like Tennessee, the Browns also have a 3-11 record, and with the red-hot Chiefs and Steelers left on the schedule, Cleveland probably won’t win again this season. So a Titans victory against the division-rivals Texans or Colts would open the door for the Browns to snag the first overall pick.
Courtesy of NFL.com, here’s the current projected order for the top 10 picks of 2016, with two weeks left in the regular season. Teams are sorted by worst record, with strength of schedule serving as the tiebreaker — the weaker a team’s schedule, the higher its draft pick.
- Tennessee Titans: 3-11 (.490)
- Cleveland Browns: 3-11 (.520)
- Baltimore Ravens: 4-10 (.490)
- San Diego Chargers: 4-10 (.510)
- Dallas Cowboys: 4-10 (.551)
- San Francisco 49ers: 4-10 (.571)
- Miami Dolphins: 5-9 (.449)
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-9 (.469)
- New Orleans Saints: 5-9 (.526)
- Chicago Bears: 5-9 (.561)