After Saquon Barkley tore up the combine, the Cleveland Browns should take the former Penn State running back to be their new face of the franchise.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was the best college football player last year and should be the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have a lot of holes to address on the roster after going 0-16 and taking a running back first overall hasn’t happened since the Cincinnati Bengals took Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter in 1995, but it’s time for history to repeat itself.
After tearing up the Big Ten and college football for the last three years, Barkley checked all the boxes at the NFL Scouting Combine. Barkley was a notorious workout warrior at Penn State where he held many program and positional records for weightlifting. He proved that again on Friday, running a 4.41 in the 40 and posting a vertical jump of 41 inches, something expected after he looked like Edwin Moses throughout his college career.
This came after he bench pressed 225 times 29 times the day before. Not a bad way audition for the 233-pound running back who could be the face of the franchise the Browns desperately need.
Many of the mock drafts are projecting the Browns to take a quarterback from Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Mayfield. All of those signal-callers bring their own set of positives and negatives and all figure to be first round picks, but the Browns should pass on all of them with the top pick.
Remove the pressure attached that follows a quarterback that goes first overall and take the best player in the draft who has the lowest bust rate. Running backs made instant impacts for teams as Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey showed for playoff teams last year and Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley showed the two years prior.
Take Barkley with the first overall pick and when the Browns are on the clock at No. 4, they can choose from the remaining quarterback prospects. The New York Giants own the No. 2 pick and could be in the market for a quarterback to succeed, or replace, Eli Manning, so chalk them up for one of the prospects. The Indianapolis Colts own the No. 3 pick and despite injury concerns with Andrew Luck, the Colts aren’t going to take a quarterback this year.
That would leave the Browns in this scenario to choose the second best quarterback in this class. It’s something they elected not to do two years ago when they traded down and passed on Carson Wentz.
Imagine a haul that includes Barkley at No. 1 and Rosen/Darnold at No. 4.
I hate to get ahead of myself, but those are the type of building blocks a franchise needs. For a team with one win in the last two seasons, this is the type of haul that could change the direction of the franchise in the short and the long-term.
Having Barkley around will make things much more manageable for the rookie quarterback knowing that security blanket is lining up a few yards behind him every play. They would bring out the best in each other and accelerate each other’s development by having a talented player to grow with.
For a franchise that has been struck with bad luck, bad decisions, bad management and bad ownership, the Browns have an opportunity to resurrect the franchise from the dead if they take Barkley.