The Browns Are Making All The Right Moves
In my latest mock draft, I had the Browns taking Saquon Barkley first overall, and Sam Darnold or Josh Allen fourth overall. And despite today’s news out of Cleveland, NOTHING CHANGES.
First, we learned earlier that the Browns traded picks for Jarvis Landry, a star WR they will team with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman, making for a very strong receiving corps. And then the news that surprised almost everyone- the Browns traded a third round pick to the Bills for Tyrod Taylor.
We all knew Taylor was not likely to be in Buffalo for the start of the 2018 season, but not many predicted he would wind up in Cleveland. It was a pretty genius move that has sent many fans speculating about what the Browns will do in the draft now. Most speculate Barkley will now DEFINITELY be the first pick of the draft. Some think the Browns will then use the fourth pick to select CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick.
I don’t count myself amongst the people that think that. I still stand by what I wrote just a few days ago. If the Browns LOVE one QB above all the others, or worry the Giants will take the same QB they want if they take Barkley with the first pick, then the Browns will take a QB first and then Fitzpatrick fourth. But I think the Browns are more likely to take Barkley first and either Darnold or Allen with the fourth pick.
The Browns need the franchise’s QB of the future, and while Taylor is underrated and promises to be a good plug-and-play QB for the next year or so, he is not the franchise QB the Browns need to turn around the organization’s fortunes. They still need to take a QB with either the first or fourth pick.
Rosen is the most pro-ready QB of the three, but seems to be the QB the Browns are least interested in (and for good reason if you ask me). I still believe he is a better fit for the Giants, who have the second pick. Darnold and Allen are the two QBs in the draft with the most upside, but both probably need a little time to learn the system of whatever team they go to, as both have to work on improving areas of their respective games before they will be prepared to succeed in the NFL.
Trading for Landry strengthens the Browns’ receiving corps considerably, and they showed us something by beating the Bears and other interested teams to the punch to land him. They also showed us they are being very strategic and thinking about their long-term success when they traded for Taylor.
It wouldn’t be a good plan to throw Darnold into a starting role right away in Cleveland. He proved to be too turnover-prone last year, and the organization wouldn’t want to see his confidence destroyed if Darnold throws a multitude of picks early on. They have seen that movie before. They also don’t want to throw Allen, who did not prosper even against second-tier competition this past season, into a starting role, as the outcome would likley be the same. Allen is a tremendous specimen, but he is the definition of project. Taylor will make the team better next year and buy some time for the team’s future QB to learn the system before taking over in time, a la Patrick Mahomes. Taylor is young and hungry, and may actually push the QB competition out further than some expect (into the 2019 season), but the Browns will certainly plan to hand the reins over to Darnold or Allen at the start of the 2019 season (assuming their guy is progressing sufficiently).
I like both the moves the Browns made today but neither changed my expectatons for what will happen on draft day. My hunch is that Saquon Barkley goes first, Darnold or Allen fourth, and the Browns win the AFC North within three years. Things are changing in Cleveland (I think).
Note: After I published this, the Browns traded Deshone Kizer to the Packers for CB Damarious Randall, providing even more ammunition for my belief the Browns will take a QB with one of the team’s picks. The question then becomes whether they take Barkley first or the QB first, and if they tale the QB first, whether they end up with Fitzpatrick at number four.