ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter made everyone question their 2018 NFL mock drafts on Tuesday morning when sources informed him that the Cleveland Browns are “definitely” considering Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield as the No. 1 pick.
It’s a brand-new name to add to the shortlist of possible selections Cleveland was thought to be considering. With the first and fourth picks in this year’s selection process, the Browns are expected to lead things off by taking a passer.
However, it was believed to be between Wyoming’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold, who used stellar pro days to build their draft stock to top-pick status.
But there is also the possibility of taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, considered the best overall talent in this year’s draft class. So it is possible that Cleveland takes the rusher before addressing their quarterback situation at No. 4 given the depth of passers available early on in the first round.
Their course of action could throw a major wrench into the plans of both the New York Giants and Jets, picking at Nos. 2 and 3 respectively.
The Giants have kept their cards close to the vest leading up to the draft as even the most popular insiders are struggling to figure out what the team will do.
Barkley and Big Blue have been linked plenty over the past few weeks, with speculation building into a frenzy after the Penn State product was seen in a Pennsylvania barbershop wearing a Giants hoodie.
The dual-threat back would provide the Giants with a difference-maker in the backfield, something they haven’t had for the better part of the last decade as their rushing attack has been ranked in the bottom half of the league in each of the past five years. It’s the main reason why he is thought to be the Giants’ top priority.
But if the Browns decide to take Barkley first and use their No. 4 pick on a quarterback (Mayfield or Rosen), the Giants have their pick of the litter when it comes to potential franchise quarterbacks. Darnold’s pro day in a torrential downpour last month only helped his case with the team as it was believed at the start of April that he would be the pick at No. 2.
That was assuming that Allen would have been off the board, the Wyoming gun-slinger once tabbed as the favorite to be taken by the Browns at No. 1.
For the Jets, the Browns’ threat of taking Mayfield could ruin their plans completely. Trading up from No. 6 to No. 3 to draft their franchise quarterback, the Jets have apparently put the Oklahoma passer in their crosshairs for an early pick.
Considering Allen, Darnold and Rosen have been considered better draft prospects throughout the winter, it was all but guaranteed that the Jets would get their guy. But now there is a chance that Mayfield or another quarterback like Darnold could be off the board by the time the clock starts ticking on the third pick, which would force the Jets to take one of their backup options to become the future face of the offense.