2016 NFL Draft: Why the Titans and Browns Are Already Winners

2016 NFL Draft: Why the Titans and Browns Are Already Winners
A Cleveland Browns fan | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For the vast majority of the past decade, the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns have been two of the least successful franchises in the National Football League. In fact, when it comes to overall records, they were the worst two teams in the league in 2015.

As a direct result of their shortcomings from last season, the Titans landed the No. 1 overall pick and the Browns landed the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. And just when it looked like the Titans had narrowed their list of potential selections down to two players, they completely shook up the first round by acquiring a “king’s ransom” from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick, which will likely be used on University of California quarterback Jared Goff.

Exactly one week later, the Browns followed suit and traded the No. 2 overall pick in the forthcoming draft to the Philadelphia Eagles, who were willing to pay their weight in gold for the opportunity to (likely) land North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. While having their pick of this year’s crop of draft-eligible prospects had to be tantalizing to both Titans General Manager Jon Robinson and Browns General Manager Sashi Brown, their individual decisions to trade back were flat-out brilliant.

In exchange for the No. 1 overall pick and the team’s fourth (No. 113 overall) and sixth-round (No. 177 overall) selections, Tennessee landed the Rams’ first-round pick in 2016 (No. 15 overall), their two second-round picks in 2016 (No. 43 and No. 45), their 2016 third-round pick (No. 76 overall), their 2017 first-round pick, and their 2017 third-round pick.

On a similar note, the Browns sent the No. 2 overall pick this year and a fourth-rounder in 2017 to the Eagles in exchange for the No. 8 overall pick, their 2016 third-round pick (No. 77 overall), their 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 100 overall), their 2017 first-round pick, and their 2018 second-round pick.

2016 NFL Draft: Why the Titans and Browns Are Already Winners
Quarterback Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

At first glance, these trades appear to heavily favor the Titans and Browns, and when we evaluated each trade using the NFL Draft Value Chart, our initial suspicions were confirmed. In doing our calculations, we estimated the value of future draft picks based on where each team was originally slotted to pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

For example, we valued the Rams’ 2017 first-round pick to be the equivalent to the value of their original pick (No. 15 overall) in 2016. In total, the Titans’ haul of draft picks carried a total value of 3,440 points, whereas the Rams’ return was valued at 3,088 points. Likewise, the Browns pulled in compensation valued at 3,325 points, and the Eagles came away with draft assets valued at 2,704 points.

Granted, if Goff and/or Wentz develop into an Aaron Rodgers-type of quarterback (or anything close to it), these trades will both prove to be completely worth the risk for the Rams and the Eagles. If you throw the NFL Draft Value Chart numbers out of the picture, these were still great moves by Robinson and Brown.

Both men are running teams that have holes at multiple positions, and rather than staying put and making the safe pick or taking a high-risk/high-reward type of player, they were each able to stockpile valuable draft picks that allow them to rebuild the foundation of their roster over the next couple of years.

The 2016 NFL Draft is deep with talented players at positions of need for both teams, and the Titans and Browns are now armed with a slew of draft picks at their disposal. Robinson and Brown still have to make wise decisions come draft day, but there is no denying that the future looks bright in Tennessee and Cleveland after their respective decisions to opt out of the No. 1 and No. 2 overall spots in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com and Pro-Football-Reference.com.