Is this another quarterback draft for the ages? Will this be the year football fans look back and say their team’s misfortunes were changed with this class of signal callers? As many as six passers could hear their name called in the first round, rivaling the 1983 NFL Draft that started with John Elway and ended with Dan Marino.
Some have said Josh Allen looks like a younger version of the former Denver Broncos Hall of Famer, but with every one of these prospects, there are flaws.
The Cleveland Browns are on the clock (it seems like we constantly here with this statement) with two picks in the top four. Taking a quarterback is assured given the woes at the position and how John Dorsey, the team’s new general manager has said this organization has drafted the wrong players. The Browns need offensive weapons. They will have plenty of opportunity to select a few in the stockpiled picks they have accumulated from trades last season.
For now, this is a look at the first 10 picks of the first round. There should be a few trades that could happen. There is talk the Denver Broncos are looking to move from fifth, with the Giants potentially a suitor. I could see the New York Jets move from sixth if there is a chance that four quarterbacks come off the board in the first five selections.
It just proves how important the position is to the success of a struggling franchise and how Carson Wentz and Jared Goff helped make the Los Angeles Rams playoff contenders in their second seasons in the league.
The Eagles don’t win Super Bowl 52 if Wentz isn’t behind center for the first 13 games of the season.
Here is how I see the top 10 picks shaking down in April.
1.Cleveland Browns – Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA – The great debate. Which former Pac 12 quarterback has earned the right to go to Cleveland? Rosen is ahead of the pack on many draft boards and looks the part of franchise savior. The Browns track record of taking signal callers have been dismal the past two decades. General Manager John Dorsey may finally hit on this one. For my money, I think Rosen is a more polished quarterback with tremendous upside for the future. Now the team has a franchise quarterback to build around.
2. New York Giants – Sam Darnold, Quarterback, USC – Darnold “won” the Draft. In playing in New York and sitting for a season behind Eli Manning, the underclassman can learn for a season and grow into an NFL starter. He has great size at 6-foot-4 and can take a hit at 225 pounds. He and Rosen were neck and neck most of the season. While Rosen will be asked to step in and be a savior in Ohio, this is the best situation for Darnold, a kid who great potential who doesn’t feel the pressure other quarterbacks in this class may experience.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, Defensive End, North Carolina State – Chubb is the best pass rusher in this class and could play with a hand down or standing up as an outside linebacker. The Indianapolis Colts should get Andrew Luck back under center this season. The offense will look better with No. 12 throwing passes. Chubb immediately makes the pass rush better and give new head coach Mike Vrabel a building block he can mold.
The one thing I like more than anything about Chubb is his speed for a guy who is 275 pounds.
4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State – Here’s the question. Does Cleveland grab Barkley here or take a look at Connor Williams at tackle or Quentin Nelson at guard? The Browns have so many holes to fill. It is difficult to pass up the best running back in the Draft.
And remember, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were both taken with the fourth pick the previous two seasons. I’m a bit worried about the Browns taking a lead back given their lack of success with the last running back they took this high – Trent Richardson. Barkley is worth the gamble.
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, Quarterback, Wyoming – CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco had Allen as the first quarterback off the board to the Browns. Allen is solid, but he isn’t the top pick in this Draft. He is young and raw and has a solid arm. This might be the perfect fit for him.
The only problem is Denver’s erratic quarterback situation could thrust him into the starting lineup too early and given the team swung and missed on Paxton Lynch, it could be a situation where one green quarterback replaces another one.
6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, Quarterback, Oklahoma – Two things here. First, this is way too high for Mayfield to be drafted. Second, these are the Jets and are in need of a young quarterback. The Johnny Manziel comparisons, the off-field issues with character aside. Mayfield can play football.
What better place to be scrutinized then on the Big Apple. I think this is a pick the Jets make because three quarterbacks come off the board before them and the team panics. Hopefully, Mayfield shows moxie to overcome his size issues in the NFL.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama – Fitzpatrick should be the first defensive back off the board. The leader of the Crimson Tide secondary. This could be a toss up between he and Denzel Ward to be the first cornerback off the board. He is a solid cover corner and gives the Buccaneers another young defensive back for the future. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds he is a punishing hitter and could serve the team well as a punt returner on special teams. Fitzpatrick may also be used in blitz packages and can play some safety in cover packages.
8. Chicago Bears – Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State – The Bears may also look for a home run threat to give Mitch Trubisky another target on offense. Ward is a step behind Fitzpatrick, but is a very close second in ranking cornerbacks in this draft. He mixes things up in covering top wide receivers. I like the fact he puts himself in position to intercept or knock down many passes in coverage. The Bears are putting pieces together on offense. Now, it’s time to give the defense some help.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Arden Key, Defensive End, LSU – 49ers GM John Lynch could go wide receiver here, but the focus on defense should be a priority in the first two rounds. Key has been all over draft boards, as high as a top-three pick earlier in the season. Using him as a rush end or an outside linebacker opposite Solomon Thomas gives San Francisco two young pass rushers to build around. The 49ers should be playoff contenders next year.
10. Oakland Raiders – Derwin James, Safety, FSU – He is a Raiders-type of player. At 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, James could be used as a safety and at linebacker in cover packages. He has range and is quick to react. FSU used him in the return game and as a wide receiver at times. Even with the 10th pick in the Draft, new head coach Jon Gruden got an impact player to help his defense. The Raiders take the first step toward the playoffs in 2018.