Trust me, I know.
I know Saquon Barkley is an elite athlete. I know the star running back blew everyone away at last week’s NFL Combine. I know any team would benefit from drafting him, that he projects to be an instant superstar.
Despite being fully aware of all of this, I have zero interest in the Cleveland Browns taking him with the first overall pick. Doing so would be yet another draft-day blunder from a team which has cornered the market on that concept.
To be clear, not one aspect of my stance should be seen as a knock on Barkley. I, like many others, was stunned at the numbers he put up last week during the combine. It’s incredibly easy to see why so many view him as the can’t-miss prospect of the draft.
However, none of this sways me away from thinking Cleveland would be wrong to select him with the first pick. If the team were to do this, it would be another example of overthinking things when it comes to a far more important position.
Despite what an alarmingly high amount of Browns Twitter believes, this team is not set at QB. Running things back with DeShone Kizer is a flawed strategy, while waiting until later in the draft to solve the quarterback issue — even with the No. 4 pick — is equally faulty. Just as has been the case since 1999, the Browns are still missing a franchise QB.
Knowing this, how can you get on board with them ignoring this position with the top pick? As good as Barkley projects to be, how can you support an idea where the Browns prioritize running back over QB, once again getting too cute while trying to solve the problem this franchise has been dealing with for almost two decades?
Aren’t you tired of this? As Browns fans, aren’t you sick of NFL pundits laughing at the team for yet another boneheaded attempt to fix the quarterback problem by investing in a flawed prospect instead of the best in class? Haven’t you heard enough about this team passing up guys like Carson Wentz and instead adding skill players? Can’t you already see the headlines from next fall, the ones which read “I can’t believe the Browns passed on (name) to take a running back with the top pick”?
I sure can, and I’d prefer to avoid it at all costs.
Again, this has nothing to do with Barkley specifically. The simple fact of the matter is this team has tried so many different strategies when it comes to solving the problem at QB, all of which have backfired, sometimes in hilariously brutal fashion. What it rarely gets the chance to do is take the best available quarterback in the draft.
The Browns have this chance now. To pass it up and instead draft a running back first overall would be their trying to out-smart the league again, a famous Cleveland draft strategy with a success rate of zero.
If the Browns were actually set at quarterback, or even seemed potentially so, they could afford to draft Barkley with the top pick. To say this is the case, or would be if they signed someone like AJ McCarron, is laughably inaccurate.
At the end of the day, I can’t be convinced passing up the chance to take the best overall quarterback is the right route to take. Even if there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut leader of the pack in the upcoming class, the Browns’ only strategy for the top pick should be determining who’s the best available QB and making that player the No.1 selection.
Yes, Barkley looks like the kind of player who can transform any offense. However, until said offense has a capable quarterback, none of that matters.
The Browns don’t have one. As a result, they can’t afford to ignore this position with the first pick, no matter how good Barkley looks.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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