The intrigue endsThe intrigue is almost overwhelming as we finally arrive at draft day Thursday. Almost, but not quite.
The scenarios that have attached themselves to the Browns’ first two selections in the annual National Football League college draft have multiplied to the point where whatever unfolds will come as no surprise,
Just about anything can happen within the boundaries of the picks the Browns own at 1 and 4. All of which means most likely – quite probably, in fact – nothing out of the ordinary will happen.
But the numerous possibilities in the run-up to the draft sure are buckle-your-seat-belt intoxicating and definitely make this one of the most mysterious and yet exciting beginnings of the lottery in many years.
The Browns sit right in the middle of the building drama as to which of the four quarterbacks General Manager John Dorsey takes with the first pick and who will be on the board for him at 4.
That, of course, is if he plans to stay at 4 with the distinct possibility several teams will try to move up to get whichever quarterbacks remain on the board. That’s one of the many possible scenarios that can still unfold.
As for what Dorsey does at 1, the only thing chiseled is it will be a quarterback. That is the only absolute certainty. Who that quarterback is is anyone’s guess right now.
A few days ago, Sam Darnold (my personal choice) appeared to be the favorite in the clubhouse after Josh Allen commanded much of the attention in the previous several weeks. Now Baker Mayfield has emerged as a possibility.
What we think we know for certain now is Josh Rosen will not wind up in the Seal Brown and Orange. Or will he? Talk about smokescreens.
Only Dorsey knows for certain and now that he has emerged from the dark world he inhabits mere weeks before the draft, the only people he says he has shared his decision with are owner Jimmy Haslam III, coach Hue Jackson and the major occupants of the front office. And maybe his wife.
Unless there is a major leak in the organization, fans and the media will not know what name will be written on that initial card for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to read except the aforementioned.
Not knowing until that moment when Goodell utters the lucky guy’s name has driven Browns Nation to the brink of perplexity. Dorsey’s wondrous ability to keep it a secret for this long has given this event more drama than a soap opera.
As for the fourth pick, just about anything is possible there, including the possibility of a trade involving the New York Giants, who sit at 2, that could knock down highly ranked players to Cleveland.
Dorsey will have numerous interesting options once the Browns are placed on the clock after the New York Jets finally arrive to make their pick at 3.
Let’s examine some of them. All are based on hypotheticals.
If the Giants trade out, Dorsey will have a shot at the best non-quarterback on the board. If he leans offense, it probably would be running back Saquon Barkley. On defense, the overwhelming choice is edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
If the Giants stay put, they can go two ways. They can take a quarterback (Eli Manning’s eventual successor) or they can grab Barkley or Chubb, which would remove the difficult choice factor for Dorsey and enable him to draft whoever falls. What they do will heavily influence Dorsey’s thinking.
If Barkley and Chubb wind up in Dorsey’s lap at 4, it really is the best of all worlds. He cannot lose no matter whom he chooses because both young men are on the precipice of a terrific pro career. Both are solid can’t-miss products. It is a win-win situation.
Conventional wisdom suggests he goes with Chubb, the absolute best pass rusher by far in a draft where there is a significant drop-off to the next tier of edge rushers.
Barkley is decidedly the best running back, but this year’s crop of runners is just as deep as last year’s. (I can’t believe what I’m about to type since I’m a huge Barkley fan.) That being the case, unless the Giants take Chubb off the board, he should be a no-brainer for Dorsey at 4.
There is one other option for the GM. He could pull a Sashi Brown and trade down, stockpiling future draft capital if he could find the right partner. That, however, would be a mistake.
There is no good reason to pass on either Chubb or Barkley at 4. Brown and his minions worked hard to put the Browns in position to draft high quality talent. The time to implement is now. It should not be squandered. Dorsey might not get this opportunity again.
The opportunity to select (choose between Mayfield, Darnold and Allen) and (Chubb or Barkley) puts him in a unique position to finally launch his plan to make this franchise not only relevant again after nearly two decades, but extremely competitive for a long time.
Fans of this franchise have been through football hell for way too long. They are fiercely loyal and passionate enough to deserve a lot better than they have received.
And now we are just hours away from discovering what Dorsey has been planning in his quest to give the Cleveland Browns brand a whole new meaning.