Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Draft week preview

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley /

With the 2018 NFL Draft now less than a week away, it’s nice to be able to take some time and step back. Before the war rooms go to battle and the picks go to the commissioner, let’s review the week that will be.

This is, quite possibly, the most important draft for the Cleveland Browns since 1999. Now, while some fans (including myself) may have said that last year as well, that was nothing compared to this year’s class.

As fans know all too well, the Browns are coming off an 0-16 campaign in 2017. Additionally, they are 1-31 under Hue Jackson as head coach.

This comes down to bad drafting, a total roster teardown, and just a lack of talent throughout the organization, on and off the field.

The Number One Pick

By any and all written accounts, the Browns are taking a quarterback with the first overall pick. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley had his 15 minutes of fame following the Scouting Combine, but he has fallen out of top pick consideration since. So, let’s take a look at our options.

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Behind deoor number one: USC quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold seems to be something of a consensus pick here, outside of one or two outlets on the outskirts of the mainstream, and one Mel Kiper Jr.

Darnold has everything you want in a franchise quarterback, on and off the field. He might be a little bit of a project, but his mix of ceiling and floor is incredible. He may have some turnover problems, but those can be fixed.

What cannot be fixed is accuracy, but Darnold has that in spades. Don’t let the Ohio State game fool you, as OSU’s dynamite defensive front mixed with Darnold’s shoddy offensive line made for a rough night for USC’s No. 14.

Behind door number two: Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Allen has all the physical tools a coach could want in a franchise quarterback. With a rocket arm, a 6-foot-5 build, and a good head on his shoulders, Allen is the model student for what a quarterback should be.

That is, until he gets into a real game against stiff competition. When faced with tough opponents, Allen seems to crumble, especially in the accuracy department.

If the Browns can harness Allen’s physical talent, however, he could end up being an incredible decision by their front office. As long as they don’t thrust him onto the field too quickly, he could be one of the greats.

The Number Four Pick

The Browns have a few options with the number four pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, excluding a trade down with Denver, Buffalo, or even Miami. Let’s review their options with the fourth overall pick.

Behind door number one: North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb. Chubb, mixed with Myles Garrett, and rotating those two with Emmanuel Ogbah, could be absolutely lethal. Quarterbacks everywhere would be up at night, fearing for their lives come 1:00 PM on Sundays.

With the Jets moving up to No. 3, and the Colts moving out of the sixth pick, the Browns will likely be able to select Chubb. Many have said that he could be a better prospect than even Garrett was last year, and his tape shows it.

If the Browns take Chubb, their defensive line will likely be their identity in 2018. In recent weeks, Chubb has become something of a consensus pick should he be there for Cleveland.

Behind door number two: Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. While Ward is a bit undersized for the position at 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, he cannot be denied as a playmaker. Ward is electric, and showcased his abilities in just one year as a starter with the Buckeyes.

Ward flies around the field, and ran a blazing 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. There isn’t much to say about Ward in the athletic department that Mel Kiper and Todd McShay haven’t already said.

The one worry with selecting Ward fourth overall is that he may be a bit of a reach there. Many analysts have him going in the 7-10th pick range, and it may not be wise for the Browns to take a chance on him this early.

Behind door number three: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley is, simply put, a generational talent at the running back position. That term seems to get thrown around a lot by the draft community, but it might just be true for Barkley.

Barkley made a huge name for himself with the Nittany Lions this season. He cemented his place in the top five while at the Scouting Combine, wowing in every drill and test.

Barkley, along with Tyrod Taylor (and likely Sam Darnold), and new $75.5 million man Jarvis Landry, could totally transform Cleveland’s offense. The one worry to have about him is the position he plays.

Barkley will have an immediate impact, but may not be around for long. Running backs do make the best rookies, but they don’t tend to stick around for a second contract.


To call one’s shot is a cocky and sometimes eyeroll-worthy move, but that’s alright with me. While I do think that Allen has an outside shot at No. 1, John Dorsey will likely go with the “safer” pick here in Sam Darnold.

Next: Schedule makers did Browns no favors

Gregg Williams must be salivating over a blitz-heavy, bullrush style prospect in Bradley Chubb. With this pick, the Browns will continue their quest to conquer the league’s quarterbacks and go with the defensive end here, to pair with Myles Garrett.