Published On: Tue, May 15th, 2018

Which team is most likely to pick No. 1 overall in 2019?

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The NFL offseason is a time for optimism, as fans around the league talk about their teams’ chances in the wake of free agency and the draft.

Unfortunately, the inevitable sucker-punch of reality awaits a handful of teams destined to end the 2018 campaign in the NFL’s proverbial basement.

Here’s a look at five teams that should be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft:

5. Arizona Cardinals

A team betting its season on the health of the oft-injured Sam Bradford is courting disaster. The Cardinals do have a strong backup plan (Josh Rosen, not Mike Glennon), but Rosen is a gunslinger who’ll need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. If he’s forced into action too early, Arizona will have to win in spite of the rookie’s likely high turnover rate – a highly difficult task for such a top-heavy roster.

There’s a chance Bradford stays on the field and maximizes the Cardinals’ offensive talent, but this team is clearly rebuilding, has a rookie head coach, and has been trending downward for the past few years. Barring David Johnson exploding for an MVP-type season, Arizona seems destined for double-digit losses.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals haven’t won fewer than six games since the 2010 season, including a four-year streak of double-digit-winning seasons from 2012-15, but the franchise has stagnated under Marvin Lewis of late. The head coach was expected to retire this offseason, and it was a shock when he opted to return. Extending an era that already looked dead in the water isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

Cincinnati’s core peaked in 2015, and young guns like Joe Mixon and John Ross don’t yet look ready to reinvigorate the team. And, as always, there’s the Andy Dalton factor. He’s arguably the most inconsistent quarterback in the league, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which he plays the Bengals into contention for the top overall pick.

3. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are truly Adam Gase’s team after the head coach purged the likes of Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, and Ndamukong Suh from the roster over the past seven months. It remains to be seen whether these moves fix the Dolphins’ culture issues, but it’s hard to argue Miami is a more talented squad because of Gase’s vision.

To make matters worse, the Dolphins exited the draft without adding one of its top quarterback prospects. If Ryan Tannehill cannot rebound from his major knee injury, what’s Miami’s Plan B? (Do not say Jay Cutler). And it’s not like the aging defense, which gave up the fourth-most points in 2017, will be improved enough to carry the team should the offense falter. It could be a long season in Miami.

2. Cleveland Browns

While the owners of the last two No. 1 overall pick missed out on the top spot on this list, the Browns will always be contenders for it until they can prove otherwise – or at the very least, win a freaking game. The main reason Cleveland could make it three straight top picks is head coach Hue Jackson, whose poor in-game management, predictable playcalling, and mishandling of the quarterback position at every single step has cost the Browns time and time again.

Cleveland does have more than enough talent to fight its way up toward .500 in 2018, and regardless of who is under center between Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield, both will be substantial upgrades over their 2017 counterparts. However, the defense is still a work-in-progress – especially the young secondary – and coordinator Gregg Williams was outsmarted week in, week out last season. This season could finally be the year the Browns put it all together, but we’ve all been fooled before.

1. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo finally made the playoffs after 18 years of watching from the outside. So, it’s painfully poetic that the Bills could follow up that ecstasy with their worst season in recent memory. Now, the Bills are from a lock for the No. 1 overall pick. The defense has talent at every level, LeSean McCoy is still a stud, and Sean McDermott proved himself a shrewd head coach outside of the Nathan Peterman disaster.

However, it’s hard to get past the glaring lack of talent on offense beyond the increasingly fragile McCoy, who will turn 30 before Week 1. Either AJ McCarron or raw rookie Josh Allen will have to throw to arguably the worst receiving corps in the league, while behind an offensive line that lost two Pro Bowl-caliber players in Eric Wood and Richie Incognito. McCarron is far from a quality starter, but Allen is even further from being ready for prime time. If the big-armed pivot is thrown into the fire, the Bills are sure to get burned.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

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