The Browns have spent most of the season atop the NFL waiver wire, and they’re one loss away from clinching the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
But when the subject of the Browns potentially trying to lock up the No. 1 pick this Sunday instead of trying to beat a Steelers team that’s going to sit its headliners was brought up in Jackson’s Wednesday press conference, Jackson insisted that the Browns are focused on Sunday — and not on April.
“Oh no, we are trying to win a game,” Jackson said, per the team’s official transcript. “That talk, we don’t even get into. Like I said before, these guys have worked so hard that every chance you go out there, you are trying to win.
“All of that will take care of itself on how it all unfolds. First pick, second pick, third pick, there are good players every year. We are going to be at the top of the draft regardless of how we finish. We will be fine that way.”
At 1-14, the Browns are guaranteed to pick either No. 1 or No. 2 in the 2017 draft. They also have the Eagles’ first-round pick, which could end up being in the top 10. The only other team that could get the top pick is the 49ers, who are 2-13 headed into their season finale vs. the Seahawks.
The 49ers would likely get the No. 1 pick via the strength of opponent tiebreaker if the 49ers and Browns finish with the same record, so there were Browns fans watching closely when Colin Kaepernick ran for a late two-point conversion last week to give the 49ers their second win of the season.
While Jackson acknowledged that in some years the draft produces a clear-cut top prospect, he said he’s still not thinking about the draft just yet.
“I think history has proven that [having the No. 1 pick can matter], but I don’t think that I can get caught up in that,” he said. “I don’t think the team can get caught up in that. Our message is to go out and play and win. That is all we are interested in.
“I don’t know much about this draft yet and how it is going to unfold. That is not what I am concerned about. I am concerned about getting this team ready to play and go win.”