The National Football League’s 83rd annual rookie draft will take place on April 26-28, 2018 (8 PM ET) at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It will be the first draft to be held in the state of Texas and the first draft to be held in an NFL stadium.
Browns Picking First
The Cleveland Browns own five of the top 64 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, including the #1 overall pick and the 4th pick, which they acquired in a previous trade with the Texans.
Since rejoining the NFL in 1999, the Browns have started 28 different quarterbacks. That’s more than one per year if you bother to count. The recently-acquired Tyrod Taylor will be the 29th, and he’s likely not the future franchise quarterback but merely a bridge to that guy.
The #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will most probably give the Browns that franchise quarterback and they have four (or five) top QB options to choose from. With the 4th pick, the Browns are expected to draft a non-play caller.
The Oddsmakers’ Choice
According to the bookmakers, these are the top 7 possible #1 picks for the Cleveland Browns.
Sam Darnold -250
Sam Darnold’s dazzling display at the USC ProDay last month probably clinched for him the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold refused to move his throwing session because of rain, and he shined in front of a Browns contingent that included owner Jimmy Haslam.
The USC Trojan doesn’t have the rifle arm of Dan Marino, but he has the uncanny ability to put the ball in a position where his receivers have a realistic chance of making a catch. Among the QBs in the draft, he may be the most physically gifted and tough to put down in the pocket.
Josh Allen +175
If it’s not Sam Darnold, it’s got to be Josh Allen. The Browns have to use the #1 pick for a quarterback. The Browns like Allen’s size, speed, escapability, and arm strength. But coaches around the league are concerned about his 56.2% pass completion because the success record for QBs with a college completion percentage of below 58% isn’t great in the NFL.
There are several factors in that 56.2%, like Allen’s evolving footwork or his lack of supporting cast in Wyoming. Regardless, we’ve seen him shorten his stride since working with Jordan Palmer, and with enough time, his completion percentage can be the exception to the rule.
Saquon Barkley +500
Saquon Barkley is firmly in the mix for top pick conversation after killing it in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. At 6 feet tall and 233 pounds, Barkley proved to be the most explosive “big” running back in the last 18 years of the Combine.
With the speed of an elite receiver and the strength of an elite lineman, Barkley is simply a jaw-dropping NFL prospect. In three seasons at Penn State, he rushed for close to 4,000 yards and scored 51 touchdowns from scrimmage, 1 from passing, and 2 on kickoff returns.
Josh Rosen +1000
Just because his name isn’t often linked to the Browns in the national media coverage doesn’t mean the Browns aren’t considering making Josh Rosen the top overall pick for this year’s draft.
Rosen’s size is better than Darnold, yet it’s funny how they say he is undersized and Darnold is the prototype. When he threw in the Combine, his deep balls were better than Josh Allen’s. The UCLA QB’s pocket presence is better than that of the other top QB prospects, so having said all these, there’s a chance – although just slight – that the Browns may pick him at #1.
Baker Mayfield +2000
Media and experts say that it’s a toss between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, but Browns’ GM John Dorsey said last month that it’s still a toss-up between the top 4 QBs, meaning Darnold, Allen, Rosen, and Baker Mayfield.
Dorsey also added that Mayfield had a “really good” workout with the Browns. Since the Senior Ball in January, Dorsey has praised Mayfield’s character and passion for football. Sure, he may be a longshot, but given that he has that “face of the franchise” personality, who knows?
Bradley Chubb +3300
Adding Bradley Chubb to a defensive line that already has Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah would be nasty, and Garrett is already hoping that the three of them can wreak havoc around the NFL.
Browns’ GM John Dorsey has been high on him since the Combine, but because they need a QB more than a defensive end, Cleveland would probably take him with their 4th pick, if he’s still on the board.
Minkah Fitzpatrick +6600
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has been included in this conversation because of his versatility. Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson acknowledged that Fitzpatrick can indeed play both cornerback and free safety.
He hasn’t worked out with the Browns yet, but Jackson assured that if the Browns end up picking him, the Browns have the right spot for him in the organization.
Looking Ahead to the 2018 NFL Season
While the Browns are expected to add at least two key players for their future, the immediate future says that the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are going to be the top 2 teams in the upcoming season. Or at least that’s what the odds are saying.
New England is currently the favorite at +500. Sure, they lost to the Eagles the last time around, but with Tom Brady not yet retiring, the Patriots are still going to be a very dangerous team. But then, of course, if coach Bill Belichick decides to hang up his sweater, it may be a different story.
Super Bowl LII winners Philadelphia Eagles are next at +900, and rightfully so. They won the Super Bowl without their starting QB, and that speaks about the talent on this team. If Carson Wentz can return back to his old form, the sky is likely the limit for the defending champions.
The Green Bay Packers, L.A. Rams, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied with the next best odds at +1000. With Aaron Rodgers set to return, the Packers should contend. The Rams have the top scoring offense in the NFL, while the Steelers have a winning percentage of .696 over the past three seasons.