Opinions of this year’s quarterback class are widely divided with no real consensus of who really is worthy of being selected first. And, oh, does that play into the hands of the team picking first overall, the Cleveland Browns.
This trend began when Mel Kiper released a mock draft projecting Wyoming QB Josh Allen going first overall. Now, there are numerous reports, post-combine that it will be running back Saquon Barkley as they are satisfied taking Baker Mayfield with the fourth pick.
Kiper is a Draft “Insider,” therefore, it is not out of the realm of speculation that someone in the Browns organization indicated to Kiper that Allen is where the team is learning. As for the Mayfield/Barkley scenario, reports get out because someone wants them to get out, who does this report benefit the most? The Browns.
These reports have resulted in many believing Darnold and Rosen are NOT the Browns’ top priority, however, it has me believing they absolutely are.
What could all this mean? The Browns are strategically trying to get Rosen or Darnold – they do not care which one – to fall to the fourth pick.
This is actually not that uncommon, it is called “smoke-screening”. Just one year ago, the Chicago Bears played the same mysterious activity all the way to the start of the draft.
The Bears traded up for Mitch Trubisky when only prophets and mind readers could have seen it coming. After publically sending key members of the front office to Deshaun Watson’s pro day, many believed that was the QB they were interested in, but, oh no.
According to ESPN, the Bears,
“staged a secret dinner with Trubisky behind the scenes and begged his camp not to leak the news.”
This led the teams behind them, that wanted Trubisky, to feel no need to trade up, fully expecting him to be available after Bears select.
The devious, yet effective approach may have just turned into a blueprint for the Browns to use one year later.
I believe the Browns have real intrigue for another position, and whether that is Barkley, or they are just smoke-screening that too, they do not plan to draft a QB with the first pick.
Here is where it becomes near genius …
Once a non-QB is selected first, teams that want Mayfield and/or Allen will raid the Giants (2nd) and Colts (3rd) – neither are likely to draft a QB – thinking the Browns will select one of them fourth, to trade their picks.
And if they fall for it, the Browns will be in the situation many believed they would be in with the first pick, deciding between Rosen and Darnold. This time, however, it will be three spots lower, with better value to go along with their initial draft pick.
To simplify, the Browns want everyone to believe the QB they want is NOT who they actually, well, want.
If they are to pull this off, better days are ahead for the Cleveland Browns.
Important to note: This is all pure speculation, the Cleveland Browns have not indicated any such plan. But this should serve as a WARNING to those teams expecting to draft Rosen or Darnold after the fourth overall pick.