By Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – With 8 weeks until the NFL Draft and the NFL Combine now behind us, the silly season of trying to project how the top end of the draft will fall is officially underway.

As expected the top players in the class of 2018 did not disappoint in Indianapolis and what had been scouted throughout the college football season was essentially confirmed.

Here’s how we think the top of the draft will play out with the Browns holding picks 1 and 4.

4. Cleveland Browns: Minkah Fitzpatrick – DB, Alabama

Analysis: The Browns add a much needed playmaker to the back end of their defense. Fitzpatrick can play free safety, nickel or corner. While some might view his versatility as a problem, Gregg Williams likes players – especially those in the secondary – that can move around. Part of Williams’ frustration in 2017 was the lack of versatility and athleticism on the back end which forced him to use Jabrill Peppers as his free safety drawing criticism from fans and media. Of Fitzpatrick’s 9 interceptions, he returned 4 of them for touchdowns. He’s been described as a culture changer and leader, something the Browns desperately need. He’ll likely be the best player left on the board when the Browns go on the clock for the second time.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb – DE, NC State

Analysis: The Colts get the best pass rusher of the class to fill a gaping hole defensively. Chubb was a force in each of the last 3 seasons for NC State that saw him total 198 tackles – 100 solo and 54.5 for loss, 25 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 pass breakups and a fumble recovery. If the Colts pass on Chubb, it’ll be as equally surprising if the Browns elect not to take a QB at 1.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley – RB, Penn State

Analysis: With Eli Manning still in the fold the Giants don’t need to reach for a quarterback and instead take the most prolific offensive weapon in this year’s draft in Barkley. The Penn State back has tallied 1,000 yard rushing seasons in each of the last 3 years for the Nittany Lions. He totaled 5,038 total scrimmage yards and scored 51 TDs – 43 on the ground.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold – QB, USC

Analysis: There is no such thing as a safe pick or sure thing but Darnold presents the safest option for the Browns with the top pick. In 2 seasons for the Trojans, the 20-year old completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 7,229 yards with 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Wyoming’s Josh Allen has a big arm and looks the part but some say his fundamentals and technique need work and that’s not always easy to correct at the NFL level. Baker Mayfield’s talent isn’t the problem but his size and the perception of him off the field is. Cleveland is 2 years removed from the Johnny Manziel disaster and although that decision was 2 general managers ago, that draft hovers over the franchise like a dark cloud. Josh Rosen of UCLA is healthy but there are questions about him behind the scenes that remain unanswered concerning his love of the game, leadership and personality. So, Darnold it is.

A lot can change between now at April 26. The Browns still have a multitude of pro days to attend plus their 30 invitees to Berea.

Comments (2)
  1. This isn’t how WE ( your CBS peers ) think the top of the draft will play-out….it is “who” YOU ( Daryl Ruiter ) “hope” the picks will be ! And regardless of what you say, there is a big difference between those two scenarios.

    I (me) would like the Browns to trade out of the 1st pick in some fashion; and then back up….in order to obtain either the 2nd and 4th picks, or the 3rd and 4th picks. I would like to see this happen so that the Browns can land both FS/CB Minkah Fitzpatrick & DE Bradley Chubb. Despite everyone rambling on about how the Browns need to get a quote…”franchise QB”…if they ever want to win consistently in the NFL; there is another way to go about doing that. Aquire a “decent” starting quarterback who is still young ( A.J. Macaron ) and have him run a safe, ball control, offensive scheme; Continue to add depth to the o-line + draft a running back a the top of round 2 (they WILL be there); and actually commit to being the smash mouth,run heavy, type of football team Jackson has been promising for the last 2 years; and lastly, add the two aforementioned defensive players I mentioned….in order to turn what was a functional defense last season, into a dominate one !

    Adding Chubb to what is already a young, deep, and very talented d-line; would in all likelihood, make the unit “elite”. And good football teams are built around units that are elite. Also, adding a quality cornerback like Truman Johnson via free agency…and combining him with Fitzpatrick at free safety…would really help solidify a poor secondary from 2017. Many team have employed this strategy in the past….run the ball and avoid the big mistake on offense, play good on special teams, and most importantly; dominate on defense….and won big doing it (Jaguars last season). This would seem to be a far safer route to take, then betting on one of 4 solid…but risky…rookie QB’s—-all of whom seem to have 1 major flaw !

  2. Finishing up from above; trading back and landing both Chubb and Fitzpatrick (or just taking the 2 at 1 and 4) is my preferred choices for the Browns….as of right now. However, what I want to see, is not what I believe will happen….again, as right now.

    I believe (as of now) that the Browns will draft Saquan Barkley at #1, and then take either Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen at #4. I say “either” because 1 of the 2 will likely be gone by the 4th pick; so they will be satisfied with whoever is left. However, “if” both happen to be there, I believe that the Browns would pick Josh Allen. I say this based on the history of the people making the picks….both John Dorsey (new regime) and Andrew Berry (left over from old regime) are guys that like to bet on players with high upside. Also, Dorsey is an ardent “best-player-availble” guy, who I think will have hard time passing on Bakley at #1….and also Allen at #4 (again, if he is available).

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