This could all be smoke and mirrors or the Cleveland Browns are about to turn the 2018 NFL DRaft on its head with the first-overall selection.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday morning that there is “a mounting belief” from NFL coaches and general managers that the Browns will select Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield to open the draft.
The notion of Mayfield being taken first overall was considered somewhat ludicrous just a month ago given the plethora of quarterbacks that could be taken within the top 10 in 2018.
Toward the end of March, it looked as though Wyoming’s Josh Allen was the favorite for the No. 1 pick, especially after a pro day in which he successfully exhibited a powerful arm that could throw the deep ball on the fly for almost 70 yards. Then there was USC’s Sam Darnold, widely considered the second-best option in the draft before UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
On Tuesday though, reports came out that the Browns were considering Mayfield for that top pick.
While he isn’t built like a prototypical passer like Allen or Darnold, the 6-foot-1 Mayfield had the best season last year, passing for more yards and touchdowns with a better completion percentage that Darnold, Allen or Rosen on his way to the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
Cleveland’s decision could ruin the New York Jets’ draft as Gang Green is apparently all-in on Mayfield. Trading up from No. 6 to No. 3, a pick formerly held by the Indianapolis Colts, the Jets have a golden opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback, something they’ve lacked since the days of Joe Namath.
For a franchise that has seen almost everything go wrong for them over the last five decades, it shouldn’t be all that shocking that the Jets could lose out on their No. 1 choice. However, they are still guaranteed a very promising young arm to mold behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater next year.
But first, the New York Giants get a crack at the podium with the No. 2 pick, a selection that new general manager Dave Gettleman has done a fantastic job keeping under wraps.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the best overall talent in this year’s draft class, is set to be available for Big Blue’s taking, giving the Giants a rusher that is already being compared to some of the greatest backs to ever play the game. Yet there is always the option of drafting Eli Manning’s successor under center. And the possibility of Cleveland taking Mayfield could alter their plans if it leaves a quarterback like Darnold, who they are very high on, available.