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2018 NFL mock draft: The Browns could get the draft’s best player at No. 4

Saquon Barkley could be the sure thing Cleveland needs.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If the plan goes as hoped for the Cleveland Browns, the quarterback they take first overall will sit for the entire 2018 season. That means, if the Browns finally want to win a game, they’ll have to hit on the No. 4 pick in the draft.

That could lead Cleveland in a few different directions. Chris Pokorny from Dawgs by Nature knows which direction he wants to take in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. He’s back up to make his second pick in the first round for the Cleveland Browns.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Pokorny: Defensive end Bradley Chubb would have been under strong consideration here, but the Giants selected him at No. 2 overall. From there, it came down to a decision between running back Saquon Barkley and cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Barkley won out. I’ll concede that it would crowd the Browns’ backfield situation a bit, having veteran Carlos Hyde and outstanding receiving back Duke Johnson. But this Browns offense is in need of more game-changing playmakers. Johnson has shown an ability to do that from a receiving aspect, but isn’t going to be utilized as an every-down player. There is value in Barkley becoming the primary back, where he can try to have the same type of impact that guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley have had on their respective offenses. Taking a running back this high is a little nerve-racking because of how Trent Richardson turned out many years ago, but at the end of the day, that has no bearing on how Barkley will turn out for Cleveland.

Analysis: It’s understandable to think that this would lead to a crowded backfield in Cleveland. However, it won’t be for long. Hyde may have signed a three-year contract, but Cleveland has an out in it after a year. Johnson is only a running back by name. Last season he had more pass targets (93) than rush attempts (82). Suffice to say, Barkley would get plenty of carries in Cleveland. Then if you’re debating between Barkley and Fitzpatrick, it’s simply a value play. Barkley is arguably the best player in this draft. Fitzpatrick, while extremely good, is more of a slot cornerback and safety and not a true outside player. Unless you’re convinced he could be the next Earl Thomas, Barkley is the better choice.

Dan Kadar’s top five players remaining

  • 2. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
  • 3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
  • 4. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
  • 7. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
  • 9. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The third and final choice of the day is coming up at 1 p.m. ET with Scotty Payne from Mile High Report making the choice for the Denver Broncos.


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