After Sunday, the final day of the NFL regular season, the first 20 spots of the NFL Draft are set. Because of their 0-16 record, the Cleveland Browns now own the first pick in the draft and the fourth in the first three rounds. So just where does an NFL team that has won only once in the past two seasons go in the upcoming NFL Draft? Very simply, West. West to California to find the quarterback they have been looking for since Bernie Kosar. And, some may say, Tim Couch. But when you talk California, that doesn’t necessarily mean USC or UCLA.
Following the Browns at number two is the New York Giants. They would like a quarterback they can groom into a replacement for Eli Manning. At three is the Indianapolis Colts, and they have their signal caller in Andrew Luck. That leaves the Browns at four. So whatever the Browns have in mind for the fourth pick, will influence their decision for the top pick.
The general consensus is USC quarterback Sam Darnold will be the top QB in this draft. The 20 year old still has eligibility left and has not committed to coming out as of yet. After watching the Cotton Bowl, it’s evident Darnold needs to return to college and develop his game.
Darnold’s performance during the 24-7 Cotton Bowl loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t impress (24-of-65, 356 yards, 1 TD), but his long-term potential keeps him in the No. 1 overall conversation. In addition, after a season watching Deshone Kizer throw 22 interceptions and commit 9 fumbles, Darnold’s turnovers are a concern.
Yet he keeps his options open. “To be the No. 1 pick, that would be so special,” the 20-year-old signal-caller said, to the Toledo Blade.
In his 2 years as the Trojan’s starting QB, he has thrown 57 TD passes and 21 interceptions. But, Darnold’s career 2.6 interception percentage is lower than the college marks of Carson Palmer (3.1), Matthew Stafford (5.9) and Jameis Winston (3.3), who were all selected No. 1 overall. Whether or not Darnold enters the draft, he is not the first pick.
Neither is Josh Rosen of UCLA. Rosen has already stated he would “rather go lower to the right team, than be the top pick to the wrong team.” Most certainly the Browns should interview Rosen, to make sure he wasn’t misquoted or has changed his mind. Either way, Rosen is still not the top choice.
The top choice is Josh Allen of Wyoming. Monday Morning Quarterback’s Peter King wrote Monday about the Browns draft plans, citing a league source who believes the Browns will draft Allen. Why? Allen is compared to Carson Wentz. The Browns passed on the Eagles signal caller two years ago.
There’s no denying Allen’s raw tools. The 6’5″, 233-pound California native has the best pure arm talent since Matthew Stafford entered the league in 2009. He is nearly as big and mobile as Cam Newton, too. Yet is the caliber of league he played in worthy of the NFL? Well the league thought that too when Wentz came out of South Dakota. And in case you think the Browns can take Allen down the line, maybe in the second round, forget it. John Elway, who runs the Denver Broncos, see’s a gold mine in Allen. He will not let him drop past number 5. And the Bronco fans know of him. Allen only played two hours north of Denver and would look upon him as a hometown kid.
Then comes the second, first round pick at number four. The Houston Texans pick sent to the Browns in the Brock Osweiler deal. This one is more intriguing. If the Browns take their QB at one, what is the plan for this pick? Penn State’s Saquon Barkley? Alabama’s Free Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick? Or trade down and gather more pics?
Keep in mind, Fitzpatrick comes from Alabama, a school that as outstanding as it is, always promotes sub-par athletes into the NFL. Especially in the secondary. Dee Milner was a bust. Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t been the stud many thought he would be. The secondary pedigree out of Alabama is like a quarterback out of Notre Dame. Except for Joe Montana, it just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Barkley would be a logical pick. If you let Isaiah Crowell leave the team for free agency, running back would be a need. Barkley would help take pressure off the quarterback. You suddenly have weapons on offense. That Browns offense would be hard to defend. Allen at quarterback, or maybe A. J. McCarren or Ryan Fitzpatrick while letting Allen sit and learn. Barkley at running back. Josh Gordon at receiver. David Njoku at tight end.
That’s an improvement. Then in the second and third rounds, go after improving the secondary on defense and the line on offense. Depth, that wins championships. That is why the Browns have been collecting draft picks. Now it’s up to John Dorsey to use them wisely.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show is at 9pm every Monday evening. He also provides play by play of sports. If you have a comment on this or any other article,email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @ohbbcohost or @ultsportstalk.