The 2018 NFL Draft plan that appears to be emerging for the Cleveland Browns involves selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 and quarterback Baker Mayfield with their second pick, which is No. 4 overall.
After days of evaluation at the #Combine, one thing is clear: Penn St RB Saquon Barkley is firmly in the mix at No. 1 for the #Browns, sources say. Would be the first RB at that spot since Ki-Jana Carter to the #Bengals in 1995.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2018
Yep. Firmly. As in I truly believe he’s their pick at 1 as of right now. As for the QB and what they might do at 4, there is very strong buzz Cleveland likes Baker Mayfield a lot. https://t.co/WUzzqb9swA— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 4, 2018
Aside from meaning that the Giants wouldn’t get Barkley, thus bumming out the “Barkley or bust” portion of the fan base, this would be the best possible scenario for the Giants.
First and foremost, it leaves every top-tier quarterback in the draft class available for the Giants at No. 2. If the Giants have one guy out of the Sam Darnold-Josh Rosen-Josh Allen-Mayfield group who they love and feel can be their franchise quarterback for the next decade he is guaranteed to be on the board.
If they are dying for someone else, like Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson or Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, they could opt for that player.
The Giants would also control the chess match that the draft can become. Dave Gettleman’s phone has likely already been ringing to find out if he is amenable to moving that No. 2 pick. It will assuredly keep ringing right up until the second it is time to turn in the card with the name of the player chosen.
If the Browns take Barkley No. 1, every quarterback-needy team in the league will see “their guy” sitting there for the taking at No. 2. Who those suitors will be isn’t certain — we have to wait to see how the free-agent market shakes out first to find out. If they want to wheel and deal with that pick, though, the Giants could probably pretty much name their price.
“Are we open for business? Any decision I make will be in the best interest of the New York Giants. Plain and simple. If someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, would I move back? It depends upon who’s there,” Gettleman said during the Combine. “If there is a guy worthy of being the second pick of a draft, and what we’re basically saying if we answer that question in the affirmative is that you think you’re drafting a Hall of Fame player. So you can’t get too cute about the whole thing. Does that make sense?”
The fact that the Browns could be drawn to Mayfield isn’t surprising. Cleveland GM John Dorsey brought in former Washington GM Scot McCloughan as a draft consultant, and McCloughan is a staunch Mayfield advocate.
“I was lucky enough to have been around Favre, and I’ve gotten to know Baker pretty well just by watching him,” McCloughan said. “There’s some off-field stuff, but nothing too hairy. College kids are college kids. It’s not like he’s doing anything really bad. But he is a competitive guy. He wears it on his sleeve from the standpoint of emotions. . . . He plays with strength throughout his body, and the fact that he’s just a football player — it’s impressive. It’s a really good class this year coming out in the draft for quarterbacks. But I know this, if I was going to play one game tomorrow, he’d be my guy — hands down.”
If my read is correct that the Giants are not interested in Mayfield at that point in the draft (sorry, Chris!) that is also good news for the Giants. They could even swap the second and fourth picks with the Browns and perhaps still get the player they covet most, whether that is Nelson, Edmunds, one of the quarterbacks, or someone else.
This scenario, if it comes to pass, would bust the Barkley dream. If the Giants play this right, though, it could lead to a draft day bonanza for Gettleman and Co.