The Browns are in the top four of the NFL draft two times, with the Jets and Giants picking second and third. All three teams need a quarterback. All three teams will likely draft one.
The Giants, with Eli Manning aging and declining rapidly, are in desperate need of an heir apparent to the two-time Super Bowl champion. Their fellow North Jersey roommates the Jets paid a king’s ransom to move up three spots and are also looking to bank on what is a very talented top tier of signal-callers.
In some order, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen will be taken at the top of the draft. Every week (this week it’s Allen) it seems there is a new favorite but there is really no concensus, as Darnold also wowed scouts at his recent pro day just as Allen did. The Browns have been making moves all offseason, readying their offense for whomever commands it by adding Jarvis Landry and a potential mentor for an incoming QB in Tyrod Taylor.
The smart move for Cleveland is to sit back and take whichever quarterback is left at No. 4. They really can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned trio — which means they can take a big swing with the top overall pick.
Enter Saquan Barkley.
His measurables are off the charts, as is his football IQ. He can run with power, with speed, block and catch the football. He has been described as a generational talent. And one Hue Jackson has been keeping an eye on.
“Everything that I’ve seen, he is,” Jackson said, when asked about Barkley’s worthiness of being a top five pick. “I think he’s definitely in the conversation. Tremendous character, tremendous football player, and I think he’s going to help an organization. We need guys that come in and make a difference for the football team and the organization, and [Barkley] is definitely one of them. So he’ll be in the discussions as we move forward.”
With the first and fourth picks, the Browns are guaranteed a top-3 quarterback. They aren’t guaranteed Barkley. There is no promise the Giants won’t trade down, perhaps target a Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield in the middle of the first round. Or that the Jets won’t be content to do the same, stick with Teddy Brigewater and add a true star to their Big Apple roster.
Barkely has been listed as the top prospect in the draft by several outlets, including NFL network. The Browns have a security net at No. 4, and really, seriously can make a statement if they buck their awful quarterback track record and take a difference-maker at running back to paid with Duke Johnson and veteran Carlos Hyde.
There is just a month left for teams to decide what to do, and the entire complexion of the 2018 NFL draft depends on what Cleveland does at 1, and later at 4. Lets hope they continue to make things interesting.