2018 NFL Mock Draft: Browns draft Saquon Barkley No. 1 and here's the domino effect
Here's what happens when the Cleveland Browns decide to take a running back No. 1 overall
Saying the last 20-ish years have been rough for the Browns is a massive understatement. They've endured a decades-long inability to find a quarterback, and 2017 was their lowest point yet, becoming the second team to go 0-16 in a season.
Could fortunes be about to change in Cleveland? The Browns are set up really, really well to come away with two players who fit what they need in this particular draft.
Quarterback is a key point and the Browns can pick anyone of the quarterbacks they want at No. 1 and follow it up by knowing, factually, they can have either Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley or Minkah Fitzpatrick -- three stud prospects who fit the Browns needs -- with the No. 4 pick. If for some reason they didn't love those three prospects, someone might be willing to trade up and swap spots with them. There are a lot of options on the table.
And yet, it appears the siren call of Saquon may be calling John Dorsey's name in this draft, with rumors of Barkley being the top choice for Cleveland in the draft coming out of the combine. The logic is pretty simple: Barkley could be the best player in the draft and one of the best running back prospects we've seen in years. There are four or five high-quality quarterbacks in this draft class, and the Browns could get Barkley at No. 1 overall and gamble their guy falls to them at No. 4 overall.
Personally, I believe this is a massive mistake. For starters, the Browns would be better off grabbing Chubb at No. 1 if they are going to go non-quarterback. Pair Chubb and Myles Garrett, draft a quarterback and go get Ronald Jones in the second round and you're cooking with gas all of a sudden.
Now, if the Browns are high on three different quarterbacks, they're fine. Because by drafting a different player, they guarantee themselves they can land one of those quarterbacks. So maybe they don't get burnt. Let's play it out and see what happens.
1. Cleveland Browns
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: History isn't kind to running backs going first overall, even if recent history is pretty good for running backs being drafted in the top 10. Barkley has superstar stamped all over him, so the Browns going with him first overall isn't outrageous. But it does run the risk of them losing out on the quarterback they might want.
2. New York Giants
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Thanks a lot, Cleveland! Dave Gettleman's making a lot of noise about not drafting a quarterback because of Eli Manning, but going Allen at No. 2 and letting him sit behind Eli, then picking up pieces in free agency is the ideal situation for the Giants.
3. Denver Broncos (via mock trade)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC: The Broncos aren't out of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes just yet, but they are in an uphill battles against the Jets and Vikings. If they miss out expect them to heavily consider a quarterback in the draft. And if the Browns decide to pass on a QB at No. 1, don't be shocked if the Broncos look into trading up into this spot with the Colts. (We can haggle over the price later, but it's not prohibitive to move up two spots unless there's a serious bidding war.)
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: And this is where it gets a little dicey. I like Mayfield. The Browns might like Mayfield. Mayfield believes he can turn around the Browns. But if they're not in love with Mayfield and Josh Rosen, they simply cannot afford to make this move, because there are too many teams capable of trading up and taking their guys.
5. Indianapolis Colts (via mock trade)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: It would be surprising if Chubb fell this far, because he's the best player in the draft. But quarterbacks make weird things happen in the draft world. The Browns could conceivably take him at No. 4 too, but if you're the Colts and you can get paid to move down and still land an immediate impact and future stud pass rusher, it's best case.
6. New York Jets
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Yes, this means the Vikings got Cousins in this situation. And this is not a terrible way for things to play out for the Jets, who can sit back at No. 6 and secure a future franchise quarterback capable of playing immediately and also handling the New York spotlight.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: It just continues to be too easy to mock a wideout to the Bears up until we see them do something aggressive in free agency, although signing Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson could easily change that.
9. San Francisco 49ers
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: He might not be a prospect who plays a perfect position in terms of value in today's NFL, but, MAN, he is a fun prospect to watch. I just don't see him plummeting down the board. THIS GUY is a football player.
11. Miami Dolphins
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: What are the Dolphins doing this offseason? IDK, but they need some depth at the cornerback position, so let's give them a top prospect in this draft who showed out well at the combine.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchy, OL, Notre Dame: Getting a pro-ready tackle who can step in and help out a porous offensive line would be a big bonus for the Bengals in this spot.
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College: Landry says he's comfortable rushing with his hand down or standing up and doesn't care where he plays, and that versatility could play well into new DC Mike Pettine's defense.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: Arizona's as tough a team as there is to project in the draft because they don't have a high pick and they don't have a quarterback. For now we'll give them the best player on their board and another versatile piece for Steve Wilks' defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Derwin James, DB, Florida State: The Ravens are hard to project because their needs do not meet with the availability in the draft, but they would be just find adding the best player on their board in the very versatile James.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: You could argue the same is true for the Chargers, but they go for one more shot at beefing up the current roster and trying to give Philip Rivers a run here. Adding Hurst only makes the defensive line more dangerous.
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
Vita Vea, DL, Washington: The Cowboys locked down Demarcus Lawrence on the franchise tag but now need to improve the interior of their defensive line with a big body who can soak up some offensive blockers.
20. Detroit Lions
21. Buffalo Bills
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Mike Hughes, CB, UCF: Even though they landed Vontae Davis, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bills grab another cornerback in this draft and continue to stockpile defensive talent under Sean McDermott.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Arden Key, EDGE, LSU: The Rams have shown a willingness to gamble on some guys, and going with Key here is a gamble on a lot of upside, but they need pass rush help after dealing Robert Quinn this offseason.
24. Carolina Panthers
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP: The Panthers are likely losing Andrew Norwell in free agency and need to replenish the talent on the offensive line through the draft. Hernandez showed out well at the combine and likely secured an early round selection.
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: The Saints could easily end up filling this role with Jimmy Graham, assuming he isn't tagged by the Seahawks. But even then it wouldn't be stunning if they doubled down on the tight end position and got Gesicki, who exploded at the combine.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: The Steelers are going to spend this offseason trying to figure out how to replace Ryan Shazier. It's not actually possible, but they need to find some linebacker help in free agency and the draft.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
Connor Williams, OL, Texas: Nice combine showing from a guy with a lot of upside who struggled with injuries in 2017 should solidify him as a first-round pick. The Vikings need the offensive line help here.
31. New England Patriots
Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: Rookie corners probably aren't making an instant impact in a Bill Belichick defense, but you never know. And judging from the Super Bowl, they clearly need depth at the position.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: Depending on what cuts the Eagles have to make (Torrey Smith?), it wouldn't be surprising to see them chase a little speed in the draft, especially if a guy like Kirk lands here.
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