The Streets are Talking
The NFL Draft is fast approaching and as usual, all kinds of crazy rumors are being thrown around. Teams love to use this period of the offseason to leak information that may alter another team’s decision during the draft. Most information released around this time should be taken with a grain of salt as nothing is reliable. A team might leak negative information about a player who is expected to go high to scare teams away from him so they can pick him up. I believe we’re in the middle of one these examples at this very moment. A couple of days ago there was a report that Saquon Barkley’s agents wanted him to publicly refuse to play for the Browns so that he could be drafted by the Giants. It has since been denied by his agency but let me tell you why not only was that report not believable, it’s also a terrible idea.
Let’s look at X’s and O’s of this theory
I can see why Saquon’s agents would want him to play in New York. They have the bright lights, the constant media coverage, and the branding opportunities to make a lot of money outside of football. I mean, that’s cool and all, but no player is building a successful brand without a successful career and I can tell you right now Saquon will not have a successful career if he is drafted by either of the teams in New York. Neither the Giants at #2 nor the Jets at #3 have a roster that will help Saquon reach his full potential.
The Giants offensive line is in shambles at the moment, and if they spend the #2 pick on Saquon, they will miss out on Quenton Nelson who is widely considered to be the best offensive line prospect in a decade. There’s no guarantee that they would be able to improve their offensive line and Saquon would most likely spend the beginning of his career in New York repeatedly being stuffed in the backfield. Does that sound like a situation that will bring along big branding opportunities? Most likely the New York media would descend upon him like kids fighting over a bag of Taki’s and he’ll end up going out like David Wilson, another high profile running-back that was eaten alive in New York thanks to that terrible offensive line and savage media.
Saquon should want to avoid the Jets as well. Getting drafted here will have him well on his way to being labeled a bust. The Jets offense just lost their leading receiver in tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins as well as their #1 wide receiver in Eric Decker. They aren’t going to be able to replace that talent in the draft this year as there’s not a lot of talent at those positions in this draft. No one is going to fear this passing attack next year. If Saquon goes here he’s going to consistently see eight-man fronts all season. You can look at Todd Gurley’s production his second year, when the Rams similarly had no passing attack, to see that this is a situation Saquon should want no part of.
Look, I know it sounds crazy but Cleveland makes the most sense football wise
There’s something different in the air this year when it seems a player should WANT to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns. The moves the Browns have made this offseason have set them up to have their best season in a long time. Looking at the roster, the Browns don’t have the offensive line problem the Giants do. Guys like center JC Tretter, guard Joel Bitonio and guard Kevin Zeitler are proven offensive linemen at the top of their game. They even have quality linemen on the bench like Austin Reiter who could start for a lot of teams. Saquon would have a field day running behind this line especially when you consider some other moves the Browns have made.
This might be the first time you’ve ever read this statement, but the Browns actually have a legitimate quarterback this year. Tyrod Taylor is a proven quarterback who led his team to the playoffs last year throwing to weapons nowhere near as talented as the Browns current crop of receivers. Newly signed Jarvis Landry, returning legend Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku will ensure that no team will be able to play an eight-man front against the Browns. Cleveland is clearly the best football situation for Saquon, and if he comes to Cleveland and helps in the renaissance of Browns football, the branding opportunities will dwarf what New York could bring him.
But if the Browns go quarterback at #1 none of this matters
This is true. The Browns are believed to be leaning towards quarterbacks Sam Darnold or Josh Allen with the first pick. If that happens there’s nothing to stop either the Giants or the Jets from selecting Saquon Barkley and promptly grinding him into dust in a feeble offense. Hopefully, that’s not what the Browns decide to do. Personally, I believe Josh Allen is Blake Bortles 2.0 and has BUST airbrushed on his favorite kicks.
Secondly, I don’t agree that the Browns even need to draft a quarterback at #1. None of this year’s quarterbacks are can’t miss prospects and they already have a quarterback in Tyrod who has proven he can lead a less talented team to the playoffs. The Browns should learn from their past mistakes and not put the weight of the franchise on a rookie quarterback. Imagine a scenario where the Browns select Saquon Barkley #1 overall. The Giants and Jets will both pick quarterbacks, allowing the Browns to come back at #4 overall and select Quenton Nelson to add to that already dominate offensive line.
You like that don’t you? Think about how that offensive line in Dallas led them to a 13-3 record Zeke’s rookie year, how easy they made the game for Dak Prescott. I can almost hear Browns fans screaming their heads off as they host their first playoff game in ages.
Whether the rumor was true or not we will never know. Browns fans can comfort themselves with the fact that even if Saquon’s agents wanted him to curve the Browns, he never publicly followed through with it. Maybe he saw the same thing I did and knew it was a dumb idea. If that’s true some team is going to get a very smart football player on April 26. One focused on football and not how he can build his brand. This draft will be exciting for Browns fans no matter how it shakes out but this should be the scenario they’re hoping for.