There have been 18 NFL drafts since the Texans joined the league and picked first in 2002. In those 18 years, teams picking first averaged 1.7 wins the year before.
What that means is the Vikings, sitting on one win, probably need at least a franchise-record 14 losses to have any shot at wresting slam-dunk No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence away from 12 peers that currently have fewer than three victories.
Suddenly, the Vikings seem more than OK with belly-flopping down that slippery slope. Fifteen bye weeks after the Love Boat scandal rocked the Vikings off the field, General Manager Rick Spielman sent notice on Thursday that he and Mike Zimmer’s 2020 on-field ship has sunk.
He said otherwise, of course. But less than two months after using a second-round pick to acquire Yannick Ngakoue, Spielman unloaded him for a third-round pick on the same day news broke that Danielle Hunter had opted for season-ending neck surgery.
Will there be more white flags raised before the Nov. 3 deadline?
Possibly. After all, the winless Jets have the inside lane and look unbeatable when it comes to being beaten.
Meanwhile, 18 teams already have played their way out of next year’s first pick by winning at least three times.
Sorry, fellas. Worse luck next year.
Houston also has a problem. The Texans are 1-5 but also traded their pick to Miami. The Dolphins are 3-3 and still sitting seventh and 14th in the current draft order.
The Dolphins presumably don’t want Lawrence, the Clemson quarterback, having just named rookie Tua Tagovailoa their starting quarterback. But Miami wouldn’t mind the bounty that’ll come from trading that pick.
The last time a team traded the first overall pick, Tennessee got a first-round pick, two seconds and two thirds to swap first-rounders so the Rams could take Jared Goff in 2016.
Trading for the Lawrence pick probably will cost even more.
As for the Vikings, don’t kid yourself, Kirk Cousins fans. There’s no way they’d pass on Lawrence’s talent and rookie pay scale. He could sit or share the job in 2021, when Cousins is guaranteed $21 million, and then bump Cousins from the roster in 2022.
So how will this Tussle for Trevor play out over the final 11 weeks? Here’s a week-by-week guess:
Fourteen teams are in contention, including the NFC East-leading Eagles (2-4-1). The others are: Jets (0-6); Giants (1-6); Washington, Falcons, Jaguars, Vikings and Dolphins, via Houston (1-5); Chargers (1-4); Bengals (1-4-1); Cowboys (2-4); Lions, Patriots and Broncos (2-3).
The Giants already moved on with Thursday’s loss to the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Jets basically are a lock for 0-7 with a game against the Bills.
Look for Washington and the Chargers to get their second wins with victories over the Cowboys and Jaguars, respectively.
Who’s out? The Lions and Patriots will beat the Falcons and 49ers. That’s three wins apiece. See ya, boys.
Twelve teams remain.
The Jets play the Chiefs and drop to 0-8. The Vikings travel to Green Bay, so, yeah, no worries this week, draftniks.
Who’s out? The Eagles and Broncos. They win their third games against Dallas and the Chargers, respectively.
Ten teams remain.
The Jets face the Patriots on “Monday Night Football.” Hello, 0-9 heading into the bye.
The Vikings move to the edge of Trevor elimination by beating the Lions at home to go to 2-6.
Who’s out? Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris goes to 3-1 with a win over Carolina. That’s too good, Coach.
Nine teams remain.
The Vikings make it through Week 10 with a prime-time loss at Chicago (naturally) but mess things up by beating the Cowboys at home in Week 11 for their third win.
Bye-bye, Trevor. Congratulations, Kirk.
Two other key battles for draft position in Week 11 are Jets at Chargers and Bengals at Washington.
Who’s out? Vikings and Chargers.
Seven teams remain.
The Jets make things interesting by beating visiting Miami — whom they lost to 24-0 last week — to escape posting the third 0-16 season in NFL history.
Who’s out? Bengals and Cowboys. They get their third wins by beating the Giants and Washington, respectively.
Five teams remain.
Five teams — Jets, Giants, Washington, Jaguars and Texans (whose pick belongs to Miami, remember) — hold steady (or unsteady) with a combined 0-15 record in Weeks 13-15.
But Week 16 sees Washington and Houston reach their third wins over Carolina and Cincinnati, respectively.
Who’s out? Washington and Miami, which owns Houston’s pick.
Three teams remain.
The Giants eliminate themselves from the tiebreaker process by beating Dallas.
Jacksonville and the Jets both finish 1-15, losing at Indianapolis and at New England, respectively.
The tiebreaker is strength of schedule. The weaker strength of schedule gets the top pick.
So, congratulations …
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. Your squad somehow lost out to a team that started the season 1-0.
Trevor Lawrence will be heading to Jacksonville.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: email@example.com.