I’ve been a fan of the NFL draft since the late 1970s, and I have been involved with it in some capacity since the 1982 draft (that was the first time I was in a draft room during the draft). In all that time, this is the strangest draft I have ever seen.
As many as four quarterbacks could go in the top 10, but these quarterbacks aren’t the four best players in the draft, and the player I have rated highest overall (Bradley Chubb) might not go before the fourth pick. I always learned that the draft is about taking the best player available, but this year it’s the best quarterback available. What’s odd is that there is no consensus quarterback at the top of the draft. It’s Thursday morning, yet no one knows who the first pick will be.
Browns GM John Dorsey keeps things close to the vest and he isn’t saying. In the last week, we’ve heard the pick could be Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. As of yesterday morning, I was told the coaching staff and some of Dorsey’s top lieutenants did not know who the pick would be. They were supposedly informed yesterday afternoon.
I’m also told that the scouting staff was under the assumption that the pick would be Mayfield but they weren’t sure because they hadn’t yet been definitively told.
If the pick is Mayfield, does that mean that the Giants, who felt Darnold was going to be the No. 1 selection, don’t take Saquon Barkley and take Darnold instead? Who knows?
For weeks, there have been strong rumors that the Jets wanted Mayfield as their guy. I was told yesterday afternoon that wasn’t the case and that the Jets offensive coaching staff was adamant in not wanting Mayfield. Their choice was UCLA’s Josh Rosen. While the Jets coaches may not want Mayfield, I’m not certain who the front office prefers. I do know one thing: if a club takes a player the coaching staff doesn’t want, it won’t work and it will spell disaster for all involved.
I’ve thought for weeks that the Browns might be willing to trade out of the fourth slot if there were clubs in search of a quarterback ready to pay a ransom for that fourth pick. If quarterbacks do indeed go in the first three picks, there could be a number of teams willing to pay a high price for the last of the supposed top four quarterbacks. If they stay they could have their pick of Chubb, Barkley or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
At No. 5, the Broncos would like to select a quarterback, but they only have one in mind, and if he isn’t there they will look to trade down or draft one of the top positional players. The Colts will be looking at some very good players — it just depends whom they prefer. If the right guy is there they will stay and select him. If that player is gone, they may look to trade down but not that far as they don’t want to miss out on one of the players they feel is elite.
Tampa is said to be leaning toward Florida State safety Derwin James but do they ever select the player we think they will take?
The hot player right now in the top 10 is Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. He could come off the board as early as four and no later than eight. It is Smith — not Tremaine Edmunds — who is considered by almost all as the top linebacker in this draft.
I’ve been told that San Francisco (No. 9 overall) wants Smith but won’t be able to get him unless the Niners trade up. Their fall-back guy is said to be Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.
One thing is certain for tonight: expect the unexpected. Everyone for weeks has expected the Browns to select Darnold. If they take Mayfield instead, it will affect just how the top five come off the board. Clubs have to be prepared for surprises, as they will happen.