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Who will have the 1st pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?

The number one reason tanking for Caleb Williams is a bad idea

USC practice. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Though it is not the same as betting on who will have the worst record, the four teams who have the worst Super Bowl odds according to DraftKings are the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The team that is fifth from the bottom, right behind the Bucs, is the L.A. Rams, and they’re tied with the Tennessee Titans at +8000 Super Bowl odds.

However, when I look over all 32 teams in eight divisions, the first thought that comes to mind is “Wow, a lot of these clubs could have horrible seasons under the right conditions.”

As we get closer to the regular season, and to be fair that’s still over a month away, it becomes apparent than even more teams than anticipated could have disaster waiting at quarterback. And if there’s anything that’s easy to connect, it’s that the teams picking high in the draft almost always have significant struggles in passing the football and defending the pass.

The absolute baseline for any team to have success: You need to be able to pass the football efficiently.

The top-six draft order based on last seasons results were:

The Chicago Bears (30th in pass DVOA)

The Houston Texans (31st in pass DVOA)

The Arizona Cardinals (29th in pass DVOA)

The Indianapolis Colts (32nd in pass DVOA)

The Denver Broncos (27th in pass DVOA)

The Los Angeles Rams (25th in pass DVOA)

The only team in the bottom-six for pass DVOA that is not on that list is the Carolina Panthers and they picked ninth prior to trading up to one to select Bryce Young. The Texans traded up to three to assure that they got both quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson. The Colts drafted Anthony Richardson. And the Broncos and Rams surely would have considered drafting quarterbacks if they hadn’t already traded those picks for quarterbacks.

When the 2024 NFL Draft gets here, the top of the class will feature two elements:

Improving the passing game, probably by drafting a quarterback

Teams that suck at passing

So when I hear that Baker Mayfield is losing ground (and that comes from Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator) to Kyle Trask and that Sam Howell is losing ground to Jacoby Brissett (per Ron Rivera), I start to think that this competition to have the worst record in the NFL is going to be as dramatic and competitive as the race to the Super Bowl.

There are reports out of Falcons training camp that Desmond Ridder might not be the guy after all. Fears out of Broncos training camp that Sean Payton’s influence isn’t helping Russell Wilson. Word out of Raiders training camp that Jimmy Garoppolo is already on a “pitch count”.

Who is going to have the worst record in the NFL this season? That’s impossible to answer, but possible to guess.

In the interest of not offending anyone who doesn’t think the Rams could possibly, I don’t know, post the same record that they did last season, let’s even set aside Los Angeles for now. Instead, look at all the other teams that could finish with the worst record in 2023 because for anyone arguing to “tank for Caleb Williams”...bad luck.

Intentionally getting the first overall pick might actually be harder than intentionally winning the Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Two guys who shouldn’t be starting at quarterback in the NFL: Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Extend that to three quarterbacks: John Wolford. Rams fans know first hand that Wolford isn’t a starter but neither of the two guys ahead of him have done anything to prove that they’re starters either. Mayfield struggles to see the field when he’s kept in the pocket and he was lucky to find a tiny amount of success with the Rams last season, which only came after he was cut by the Panthers.

Carolina didn’t have to cut Mayfield. They did it because he was just that bad.

Trask is an unknown, but in two years behind Tom Brady he didn’t give outsiders any reason to believe that the Bucs like him as an heir apparent. Which isn’t usually hard to see even when you’re blocked by Tom Brady. The Patriots and other teams knew that Garoppolo was at least something when he sat behind Brady for three years. The Chiefs knew early on that Patrick Mahomes was somebody who was going to clear out Alex Smith. Even the Packers have a small amount of confidence in Jordan Love, as they didn’t bring in any competition.

Tampa Bay didn’t just bring in Trask competition, they expected and hoped that Mayfield wouldn’t have to be in a competition at all. Instead, it looks like Trask may actually have the lead and as they have said for a long time, ‘If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offseason Workout Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Now let’s say that you think I’m overrating quarterbacks and “Teams can win with Trent Dilfer! (23 years ago).”

Teams can win with mediocre quarterback play if they’re amazing everywhere else. Let that thread through each of these teams I will mention. The Bucs can’t run the ball, we’ve known that forever. Their best offensive lineman, Tristan Wirfs, is moving to left tackle for the first time. The rest of the line is suspect. The defense is mediocre and one of their top players, Devin White, is unhappy. Their first round pick, Calijah Kancey, is in danger of missing the start of the season. And head coach Todd Bowles has gone 5-11, 5-11, 4-12, 8-9 in his most recent four seasons in charge of a team.

The Bucs open the season with the Vikings, Bears, Eagles, and Saints. They could lose to Minnesota and Philadelphia, of course, and then they have to face a division opponent on the road. The Bucs might open 1-3. Their next three games after a bye are against the Lions, Falcons, and at the Buffalo Bills. What if they go 1-2 there?

A 2-5 Tampa Bay team would be working the telephones to sell parts before the trade deadline, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and White. That’s only if they beat the Bears and Falcons.

It’s very hard to come up with scenarios in which the Bucs don’t lose at least 10 games, but they aren’t the only team in danger of that.

Denver Broncos

Anyone trying to paint Sean Payton as a savior—to a team that went 5-12 WITH almost all of the pieces in place who they wanted to be healthy—is forgetting that the Saints were sometimes mediocre with Drew Brees and always terrible without Drew Brees. Payton saw one year of Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill, and Jameis Winston and quit!

Well, there are mixed training camp reports on Russell Wilson’s “bounce back” and Wednesday’s was reportedly his worst day yet. The team also lost receivers Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler for different reasons and the offensive line could have just as many problems protecting Wilson as they did in 2022. The fact is that Wilson’s career may be over and unsalvageable.

One thing that having Wilson and Payton also distracts from is just how much less talented Denver’s defense looks this year compared to previous seasons, and they also let coordinator Ejiro Evero get away and join the Carolina Panthers to replace him with Vance Joseph.

Now ball that up with playing in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

It all comes down to whether or not the Broncos come out ahead from an easy opening to the season: Raiders, Commanders, Dolphins, Bears, then the Jets. In the second half, the Broncos play teams like the Browns, Texans, Patriots, and Raiders.

Maybe they can win six of those games. But if they struggle in those games, they’ll have a hard time winning some of their other matchups, like the Chiefs, Bills, and Chargers and it could come tumbling down.

Arizona Cardinals

It’s easy to see why the Cardinals could be the worst team in the NFL. There’s almost no need for explanation. There’s some who think that rookie fifth round pick Clayton Tune should start over Colt McCoy as Kyler Murray’s stand-in and others who think Murray should sit out the whole year.

But despite how awful Arizona appears to be, let’s keep in mind that the Houston Texans WERE the worst team in the NFL in 2022 and yet they didn’t have the worst record.

We don’t know if Jonathan Gannon could be a good head coach. We don’t know if Murray maybe only misses a month and then comes out with something to prove and squeaks out a few last second wins. They have a few games on the schedule that are obvious opportunities to win (Texans, Bears, Commanders, Falcons), so maybe Arizona gets up to six wins somehow. Five is in reach.

Chicago Bears

They won three games last year. Don’t give me nonsense that the offense will automatically get better at passing the football—which is what matters from a quarterback—simply because more time has passed and the Bears added D.J. Moore.

Chicago had the fewest pass attempts in the NFL last year (by a lot) and yet only six teams threw more interceptions than the Bears.

Three wins.

Indianapolis Colts

I think the Colts probably do start Anthony Richardson, if not in Week 1, then by October. He can’t pass the football. Maybe he will learn to do that after a couple years on the job, but he can’t pass the football right now. Indianapolis may not have Jonathan Taylor either. It could be a repeat of the 2022 Bears, the team that did get the first overall pick.

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Houston Texans

Here’s the thing about the Texans, Colts, and maybe the Cardinals: If they do get the number one pick, they could trade it. That means that even if you don’t “tank for Caleb”, you could still “trade for Caleb” just as the Panthers did for Bryce Young.

By all accounts, the Texans and Colts would trade the number one pick if they end up with it.

Unlike Young, it does seem like C.J. Stroud could end up “losing” the quarterback competition to a veteran. Carolina already named Young the starter, but Davis Mills is putting up a fight against Stroud. No, Mills won’t keep that job for very long, it just goes to show that the Texans probably aren’t going to come out firing in 2023 after winning 11 games in the last three years.

Las Vegas Raiders

Have the same divisional woes as the Broncos and the Raiders have posted two winning seasons in the last 20 years. I repeat: The Raiders have posted two winning seasons in the last 20 years. We have no reason to have faith in Josh McDaniels or Jimmy Garoppolo; the NFL’s leading rusher isn’t in camp; Hunter Renfrow is overpaid; and if the team starts losing games, Davante Adams might demand a trade.

The Raiders couldn’t possibly lose 14 games? Such a statement has no business in this world.

Washington Commanders

Admittedly, Washington is coming off of the best season of any team on this list so far, but what would that make them if they tanked in 2023? It would make them this year’s version of the Colts. Indianapolis went 9-8 in 2021 and 4-12-1 in 2022 because they couldn’t pass the ball and then they fired a competent head coach.

Well, Ron Rivera is going to probably get fired if Washington doesn’t win games in September and October. Sam Howell probably isn’t a starting NFL quarterback and we already know that Brissett isn’t one either. A fourth-place team in the NFC East, Washington could blow it all up midseason and go for Caleb Williams.

Atlanta Falcons

Setting aside all the puff pieces about Desmond Ridder, he wasn’t spectacular in his four starts last season, he wasn’t a great NFL prospect to begin with, and there’s no evidence that he can successfully throw the ball downfield. You have to IGNORE everything you hear from the media and Twitter out of training camp because this is the lying season of all lying seasons.

“Oh we love this guy, we love this guy, we love this guy!”

Well, you’re in the limo with the guy on the way to prom, now is not the time to ditch him. He paid for the limo. But how many times do we hear “we love this guy” in August and then “this guy” is benched after one or two or five starts?

Week 1 starting quarterbacks in 2022 included: Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Baker Mayfield. Those are just the veterans who were officially benched last season. Add on to that players who would have been benched under most circumstances, include Joe Flacco, Jacoby Brissett, Russell Wilson, Davis Mills, Trey Lance. Or guys who could be benched soon like Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Ryan Tannehill, or Tua Tagovailoa.

Wake up, that’s half of the NFL.

I root for Ridder, why wouldn’t I, but the Falcons don’t have an established head coach, lack depth apart from some high draft picks like Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Bijan Robinson, and have a suspect defense. The Falcons could lose a lot more games than we assume.

Sleepers to get the #1 pick

So I’ve already named 10 teams who aren’t the Rams, but there’s always a team that emerges by midseason as a sleeper to get the top pick. Last year at this time, we weren’t talking about the Broncos or Rams as being as bad as they turned out to be.

New England Patriots

Can you pass the ball? Are you the fourth place team in the AFC East?

New Orleans Saints

Is Dennis Allen the worst head coach in the NFL? Did we forget what happened to Derek Carr last year? Will Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas play enough?

Green Bay Packers

Does it all come tumbling down without Aaron Rodgers? Is Matt LaFleur on the hot seat?

Tennessee Titans

I would think that Mike Vrabel is too good to be that bad, but would have said the same about Sean McVay a year ago and the Titans could be in a similar situation in that two or three bad injuries pulls apart the fabric of the team.

New York Giants

There has to be at least some regression to what they accomplished last year and Daniel Jones is a suspect decision to give $40 million to.

Miami Dolphins

Already have injury problems and Jalen Ramsey was basically the only fix to one of the NFL’s worst secondaries last year. Miami’s other huge problem was the offensive line and they didn’t do anything to help that area of the team. Is it really hard to imagine that the Dolphins will be down to QB3 by midseason?

I think there are also some historically-bad franchises that can’t be given too much credit like the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and L.A. Chargers, although they do seem too talented to fall that hard. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the opposite: A successful franchise that doesn’t seem talented enough.

Point being, when you boil it down, I think at least 20 teams could make this list. That’s a much longer list than the teams that could win the Super Bowl. Which is why Kevin Demoff is right about one thing: “Tanking” doesn’t work.