QB-heavy draft offers suspense

By Steve Sell
April 26, 2018

The NFL draft is always more exciting when there’s quarterback intrigue.

In what has a chance to rival the Class of 1983 (John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Ken O’Brien and the forgettable Chiefs pick Todd Blackledge), there could be four quarterbacks snapped up tonight in the first seven or eight picks.

And the beauty is that we don’t know in what order they’ll go. I’ve seen mock drafts where Wyoming’s Josh Allen is the No. 1 pick, but some that have him as low as No. 11. USC’s Sam Darnold could be No. 1, but again I’ve seen boards where he’s slid back.

Then you have Drew Brees clone Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, who some teams deem too short and his hands are too small. All I know is that he made a ton of plays for the Sooners, but remember he played in the Wild West Big 12 where spread offenses are the norm and defense is just an afterthought.

UCLA’s Josh Rosen is a possibility, but he didn’t exactly receive a ringing endorsement from his college coach Jim Mora Jr. He’s seemingly the quarterback whose stock has slipped most leading up to the draft.

And how can we forget Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner? He’s a freak athlete, but NFL teams may shy away because they don’t think he has a throwing motion that can translate to the Big Show, much like Vince Young when he came out of Texas. Jackson could very well be this year’s Deshaun Watson, who was on his way to Rookie of the Year with Houston before being sidelined by a knee injury. If he falls into the late teens, he could use that as motivation and prove to be the best of the bunch.

Another prominent storyline tonight is what the sad-sack Cleveland Browns are going to do. They own both the top pick and the No. 4 pick and they now have the respected John Dorsey running their draft. Dorsey, of course, is the former general manager of the Chiefs who picked a Pro Bowl rookie in each of the last three years (Marcus Peters on 2015, Tyreek Hill in 2016 and Kareen Hunt in 2017). 

The Browns were hideous last year. They were 0-16 and totally inept offensively. They need a quarterback and running back.

If I were Dorsey, I’d take Penn State’s Saquon Barkley with the first pick because the New York Giants, sitting at No. 2, will take him if the Browns don’t. If Cleveland takes Barkley with the first pick, they would still have at least three of the quarterbacks left on the board. If the Browns take Barkley, look for the Giants to take a quarterback, as will the Jets at No. 3. 

None of the “Big 4” at quarterback has taken the lead as the favorite. It wouldn’t surprise me of the order. If I had to rank them it would probably be Allen first, followed by Darnold, Rosen and Mayfield. The way Mayfield carries himself sends up red flags for me.

Of course, the board could go up in smoke with trades. That’s what always makes the first round exciting.