With the NFL Scouting Combine in full-swing the focus of the media is once again on the Cleveland Browns who have the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft. The struggles of the Browns in recent years have been well documented, and coach Hue Jackson has to imagine he’s on the hot seat after a disastrous 2017 campaign in which the Browns failed to win a single game. While it doesn’t take an NFL insider to point out that the Browns are in desperate need of a quarterback, what remains unclear is if Cleveland believes the answer to their quarterback woes will be available in this year’s draft. Thus, the idea of swapping the #1 overall pick for a combo of later selections has gained considerable steam in recent weeks.
Steven Ruiz predicts in his mock draft for USA Today that the Browns will swap the coveted top pick to the Denver Broncos for a smorgasbord of picks and cornerback Aqib Talib. It is widely believed the Broncos would then use the first pick to select Josh Allen, the signal-caller from the University of Wyoming. Many scouts see Allen as a high-risk, high-reward prospect. His physical intangibles and arm strength are unmatched in this year’s class, but the fact remains that Wyoming plays in a traditionally weak Mountain West Conference and Allen’s career numbers are less than eye-popping. It would be an even larger risk for a struggling franchise like the Browns to gamble on Allen, so it would make sense for Cleveland to ship the top pick to Denver and spend their remaining draft capital fortifying the rest of the roster.
So if not Josh Allen or any of the other quarterbacks in the draft, who will be taking snaps under center for the Browns in 2018? That’s a tricky question that will largely depend on where pending free-agent Kirk Cousins ends up. While he’s the first choice for the Browns, there’s some other intriguing free-agent quarterbacks out there. One name that has been floated around is former Cincinnati Bengal A.J. McCarron who has familiarity with Head Coach Hue Jackson from his stint as the Bengal’s defensive coordinator, however this would be a less dynamic signing that may not energize the Browns fan base. As we move closer to the draft, the whole league waits patiently to see what the Browns decide to do with the top selection.