We still have a few days to go until the Cleveland Browns are officially on the clock, but that has not stopped the rampant speculation over who they might take with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen have all been linked to Cleveland as of late. However, there is one common exclusion: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
Mock drafts have placed Barkley anywhere from No. 2 (New York Giants) to No. 7 (Tampa Bay), despite him being the consensus top prospect in this year’s draft. Today, we are going to look at the possibility that the Browns take Saquon Barkley No. 1 overall.
The case for
In a draft class full of question marks, Barkley’s talent is one of the few things that can be taken for granted. Barkley is ranked as the No. 1 prospect on nearly every draft board available, calling him a generational talent.
Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to enter the draft in the last five years. Barkley has excellent vision and was one of the most elusive backs in the country last season. He is also a dynamic receiver out of the backfield, allowing him to play all three downs. Barkley’s character has also been highly touted and is expected to be an NFL team’s focal point for the next decade.
As if this were not enough, he also put on a show at the NFL Combine. Barkley ranked in the top five in his position in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and bench press, along with impressing during the on-field drills. Barkley also seems like the best option given the uncertainty at the quarterback position.
Unlike years past, there is no clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in this draft class, with each one having one major flaw. Sam Darnold turns the ball over too much. Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield have character concerns. Josh Allen has accuracy problems. None of these four quarterbacks should start right away, and would benefit greatly from sitting behind a veteran for their rookie year. This makes them a hard sell for the first overall pick, while Barkley would be an instant impact starter. Since the Browns also have the fourth overall pick, they would still have their choice from at least two of the top four quarterbacks available.
The case against
Although waiting until the fourth pick to select a quarterback would be ideal, there are reasons why this likely will not happen. If the Browns have their sights set on one quarterback, waiting would be very risky. Selecting Barkley with the first overall pick could risk missing out on a future franchise quarterback.
Quarterback is also by far the more valuable position. Having a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback is essential to making a deep playoff run, and Tyrod Taylor may not be the long-term solution. With the Bills, Taylor never posted a quarterback rating over 100 and struggled to move the ball effectively last season. He may be the starter in 2018, but taking a quarterback with the first overall pick would be beneficial in the long run.
In addition, if Cleveland is interested in Barkley, he may still be available with the fourth overall pick. If the Giants and Jets both pass on Barkley in favor of rookie signal-callers, then he could fall straight into the Browns’ laps at No. 4. In this scenario, the Browns would get the quarterback of their choice and the best player in the draft.
Verdict and Prediction
Saquon Barkley is one of the most talented draft prospects within the last several years. He would provide dynamic playmaking ability to any team that drafts him, and he deserves to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Barkley, along with Carlos Hyde, would dominate the Browns’ running game, providing support for any quarterback that falls to them at pick No. 4.
However, it seems unlikely that Cleveland will select him with the first overall pick. The Browns likely have their sights set on a certain quarterback and will select them at No. 1. This allows Barkley to fall to the New York Giants, who have a major need at running back. Cleveland may not get their star running back, but they will have their new quarterback of the future.
Featured image by the Associated Press.
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