The 2018 NFL Draft is almost upon us.
You can feel it in the air. The draft “experts” are creating mock drafts. NFL teams are scouting every prospect. Fans are clamoring for their teams to draft their favorite players. And, the Cleveland Browns are drafting first overall — again.
The 2018 NFL Draft may be remembered as one of the most entertaining and unexpected drafts in recent memory. Nevertheless, here are three headlines that may or may not become a reality in this year’s draft.
Cleveland Drafts the Quarterback and the Running Back of the Future No. 1 and No. 4
With the highest potential among the quarterback prospects, Sam Darnold is the perfect pick for the Browns. He possesses the arm, the mobility and the leadership that every NFL team covets. Although he didn’t throw at the NFL Scouting Combine, he was lights-out in his pro day at the University of Southern California.
Darnold possesses traits that other potential top QB prospects lack. For example, he exhibited strong character when he swapped flights to throw for his teammate. In addition, his experience exceeds that of other players, like University of Wyoming QB Josh Allen, as he faced tough competition in the Pac-12 Conference, while Allen played in the less competitive Mountain West Conference. His focus sets him apart from other prospects, such as University of California, Los Angeles QB Josh Rosen, who put a hot tub in his freshman dorm, just because. Also, University of Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield has well-documented maturity issues such as resisting arrest and a crotch-grabbing incident.
The fourth overall pick is an easy choice. If former Pennsylvania State University running back Saquon Barkley is on the board, Cleveland should take him — no questions asked.
With the Denver Broncos and New York Jets seemingly locked in on QBs, the Browns will be more than happy to have the best prospect in the draft fall into their laps. Barkley, rocking an NFL-ready 6 feet and 233 pounds, impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine. Barkley blazed the 40-yard dash in a lightning 4.40 seconds, adding to his 29 reps in the bench press and 41-inch vertical leap.
With Darnold as QB and Barkley as RB, the Browns’ offense would be set for the foreseeable future. Here’s to hoping they don’t pick first again next year.
Patriots Keep Their Picks and Still Get QB Prospect
The New England Patriots are loaded this draft.
After wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ trade to the Los Angeles Rams, the Patriots hold two first-round picks (No. 23 from the Los Angeles Rams and No. 31) and two second-round picks (No. 43 from the San Francisco 49ers and No. 63).
In classic Bill Belichick fashion,the Patriots’ draft plans are secret. According to NFL insider Adam Shefter, the Patriots may trade up into the Top 10 in hopes of drafting one of the premier QB prospects. Tom Brady will be 41-years-old this upcoming NFL season, so the Patriots will soon need to find his successor. Others have speculated that Belichick may attempt to trade both first-round picks to the New York Giants to obtain superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
However, both seem like longshots. Beckham Jr. doesn’t fit the mold of “The Patriot Way,” and, with a massive contract on the horizon, the fickle Patriots hesitate to pay around $20 million per season. Although they do need a QB this draft, the Patriots should look into a Day-2 QB such as the University of Richmond (Va.)’s Kyle Lauletta or Oklahoma State University’s Mason Rudolph, if still available.
Giants Build Up an Arsenal
After lofty expectations to begin the 2017 NFL season, the New York Giants were — to put it lightly — awful. With former General Manager Jerry Reese and former Head Coach Ben McAdoo fired, the Giants hope to revamp the franchise by finding young talent in the draft.
Holding the second overall pick, the Giants have a plethora of options. But the Giants should trade their pick and move back. While the Buffalo Bills are a viable trading partner with the No. 12 and No. 22 overall picks, the Giants should do business with the Denver Broncos if the opportunity arises. That trade would allow the Giants to obtain Denver’s No. 5-overall pick, along with potentially a pair of second rounders. If the 49ers can obtain a first, two-thirds and a fourth from the Chicago Bears to move down only one pick, the Giants should gain some considerable assets. And with that fifth selection, the Giants can shore up their offensive line by drafting University of Notre Dame (Ind.) guard Quenton Nelson.
It’s more than likely, however, that New York will trade Beckham Jr. by draft night. I would be shocked if the Giants acquire two first-round picks, but they should be able to stockpile a considerable return for Beckham Jr.’s services. With Beckham Jr.’s on-and-off-the-field antics becoming a nuisance to the team, it’s time for the Giants to cash in and trade him away. With an arsenal of picks following these trades, the Giants should be in a great position to draft their next superstar.