Generally speaking, playing a lottery is a losing proposition. The biggest lottery, Powerball, has a 1 in 292, 201, 338 chance of paying off with the Grand Prize for you, according to their official site.
Yet many people still play. CNN quoted a behavior expert in why people continue to play:
"People love to have a rescue fantasy," human behavior expert Dr. Wendy Walsh told CNN in 2011 when the Mega Millions jackpot hit $656 million. "We have the Cinderella complex -- there's a fairy godmother who's going to come in and save us."
If ever there was an apt Disney description of the Cleveland Browns franchise, Cinderella seems to be perfect, though the 7 Dwarfs could have described former GM Ray Farmer's approach to wide receivers.
Yet, for the Browns, taking chances on low risk, high-reward lottery tickets seems to be a big arrow in their analytics quiver.
Today's trade for DB Calvin Pryor is another example of this regime taking the chance on a player who has the chance to hit big time while not risking much in return. Trading DeMario Davis, a former 3rd Round pick that the New York Jets let walk in free agency before last season, for Pryor, a former 1st Round pick who is almost 4 years younger, is a no brainer.
For the Browns, this trade is the third time they have taken out a lottery ticket at a very cheap price.
Earlier this off-season, the Browns shocked the world in trading a 4th Round pick in exchange for Brock Osweiler, a 2nd Round
This first move included two lottery tickets, the QB and the pick, for the cheap price of moving down two rounds in the 2017 NFL Draft. (There is the cost of Osweiler's contract but the Browns have cap space to burn.)
The second move was drafting Caleb Brantley in the 6th Round of this year's Draft. Brantley, considered by many to be a 1st or 2nd Round pick, fell all the way to the 6th Round primarily due to off-field concerns related to a charge filed against him a little over 2 weeks before the Draft.
With 10 picks this year, on top of the 14 they had last year, the Browns chance on Brantley just might pay off. Since being drafted, Brantley's charge has been dismissed and he is ready to contribute. At the low cost of a 6th Round pick, the Browns got a Day 1 or 2 talent.
That brings us back to today, the team's third swing at a lottery ticket.
The Browns, coming off a 1 - 15 season and still with needs in the defensive secondary, were able to secure a player who profiled, according to NFL.com, as "Perhaps the most explosive hitter in this year's crop of safeties... Factor in his instincts and range and Pryor has the ability to start as a rookie.
The fit is interesting. Pryor, at 5'11" and 210 pounds, is best suited as an in the box safety coming downhill. The Browns drafted DB Jabrill Peppers, whom many believe is also best suited to play that downhill safety role.
Yet, in new Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams' system, the Browns have added a player who can provide them versatility and play alongside Peppers. Peppers has some ability to play the deep safety role with Pryor underneath or they can be mixed and matched in the roles that helped T.J. McDonald, Lamarcus Joyner and Mark Barron to shine.
With the Rams, Barron, a safety in name, played primarily in a linebacker role while McDonald was the hard-hitting, versatile strong safety with Joyner as the aggressive, edge-setting defensive back.
For the Browns, Pryor could play all three of the above roles while Peppers is best suited in Joyner's or McDonald's spots.
With a big question mark still at the Free Safety spot, Williams could get creative with his backend coverage between Pryor and Peppers. Both have the athletic measurements that, if used properly, could excel in Williams' aggressive scheme.
The Pryor lottery ticket, similar to Osweiler, comes with an asterisk. There was a reason the Houston Texans and New York Jets were willing to move on from their investments in these two players. After signing him to a large contract, the Texans saw enough to know Brock wasn't their future. After drafting him #18 overall in 2014, the Jets were underwhelmed and drafted two safeties high in this year's Draft as they looked to move on.
Pryor hasn't been a great player in New York. His best year, arguably, was in 2015 when he was surrounded by the most talent. While he can be a downhill force, his change of direction ability and awareness often left something to be desired.
That the Jets were not able to secure even a low draft pick in exchange for Pryor is telling. The Browns got their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers to cough up a 6th Round pick for Justin Gilbert just last year.
Giving up Davis is little to nothing for the Browns. Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, both signed long-term this offseason, will take a majority of the snaps at linebacker.
Davis was unlikely to make the Browns, and still has a long road to go to make the Jets, while Pryor was unlikely to make the Jets but could make an impact for the Browns.
That is the definition of low risk, high-reward lottery ticket that the Browns seem interested in trying to cash in on in the upcoming season. It also is a component of analytics: Take as many low-cost risks as you can, hoping that enough pay off without the cost being too much.
This offseason, the Browns have added Osweiler, a 2018 2nd Round pick, Brantley and, now, Pryor as they play the lottery. Yet, unlike what CNN describes as lottery players seeking their rescue, the Browns hope of rescue doesn't lie with these four tickets. The Browns fairy godmother, carriage, glass slippers and Prince Charming are named Myles Garrett, Deshone Kizer, David Njoku, Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Danny Shelton, Jabrill Peppers et al.
Today, Browns fans can hope Pryor is one of many lottery tickets that hit. Hope is a wonderful thing and Browns fans deserve as much as they can get after the previous decade plus of misery.
What do you think about the Browns newest lottery ticket, Calvin Pryor?