Q: Why is it so hard for people to understand that GM John Dorsey might look at Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 as a guy who can come in, help the Browns move the ball, put points on the board, protect Tyrod Taylor and whomever else we have at QB and help change the culture in a locker room that has already added the somewhat troubled Jarvis Landry to the precarious situation of Josh Gordon? Positional importance aside, why is it so hard for people to understand that Barkley would be more than just on-field production.
Again, I’m not saying I think it should happen or that I think it will happen. I’m just so surprised how easily it has been written off by others.
— Brian Scott
A: For me, there’s two reasons I eliminate Barkley in the discussion at No. 1 — and that was before the Jets traded up to No. 3 to take a quarterback, which should guarantee the Browns take theirs at No. 1.
No matter who the running back is, I don’t think he’s worth a top-five pick. First of all, talented and productive backs can be found throughout the draft. Secondly, the shelf life for a running back is shorter than other premium positions, which makes it even more risky to take one in the top five.
I’m not dismissing the potential impact of Barkley, on and off the field, but I wouldn’t make the exception for any running back, and I’m not sure he’s a generational back anyway.
Q: Where to begin? So the Jets moved up to No. 3. Now the talk is a QB coming off the board at picks 1, 2 and 3. If this happens, what is more likely: The Browns pick the best non-QB at 4, and who is the pick, or do the Browns trade down, and if so why?
— Justin Nalley
A: I agree quarterbacks will go 1, 2 and 3, with the Giants at No. 2 the only possibility to do otherwise. But I think they’ll wind up taking a quarterback or trading the pick to the Bills, who would definitely take one.
If that’s correct, the Browns will have their choice of Saquon Barkley, their favorite defensive player and trading down. I believe Barkley is the least likely of the options, for the reasons stated above and the addition of Carlos Hyde in free agency. With Hyde and Duke Johnson, the Browns don’t need Barkley.
I wouldn’t rule out a trade down, but expect GM John Dorsey to stand pat at No. 4. The choice then becomes: defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. The Browns are set at guard, so it comes down to Dorsey’s favorite defensive player.
I reserve the right to change my mind, but am sticking with Fitzpatrick as the pick at No. 4. However, I do expect the conversation about Ward to increase. If Dorsey sees him as the best true cornerback, No. 4 isn’t too high.
Q: I’m expecting QBs to go in each of the top four picks. How far would you be willing to trade back from the fourth spot? Are there good enough players available at 12 to consider a trade with Buffalo?
A: I’m drawing the line at No. 9. If you assume four quarterbacks are gone, the Browns would guarantee themselves either Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Saquon Barkley or Denzel Ward.
I feel like there’s a drop-off after that, so I would be really hesitant to slide all the way back to No. 12. I prefer the idea of picking at No. 4, then trading back into the first round from No. 33.
Q: If the Browns package a second-round pick and a later-round pick to climb back into the first round — say 20-27 –who would they target?
— Tom, Auburn, Ala.
A: You can never tell for sure which players will be available that late in the round, so it’s easier to talk about positions to target. Depending on what they do in the top five, I would say left tackle (Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey), cornerback (Iowa’s Josh Jackson), receiver (SMU’s Courtland Sutton) and pass rusher (Texas-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport) would be enticing.
Q: It may be time to research the viability of Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson as an NFL left tackle candidate and selection at No. 4, assuming he will still be available at that point. Loading up on defensive backs and signing Carols Hyde seems to suggest draftees at those spots will be less urgent, making Nelson or Bradley Chubb the hopes at four.
— Mark Leonard
A: If Nelson projected as a top-tier left tackle, he would be the natural pick to step in and take over for Joe Thomas, who announced his retirement Wednesday. The Browns are surely studying Nelson’s tape and combine workout to determine if he might have the athleticism and footwork to move outside and live on an island blocking speedy defensive ends. If the answer is yes, he must be considered at No. 4. However, it’s dangerous to make that kind of projection that high in the draft.
As for the free agent moves, I still think there’s a significant need at cornerback.
Q: Why is there no talk of taking a QB at 1 & 4??? If the room is split and we can draft both QBs, why not? We hear how franchise QBs are worth 10 first-rounders in a trade. If that’s the case, what’s the problem trying to take a crack at 2 QBs?
A: Franchise quarterbacks are worth more than two first-rounders, you’re right about that. And I know there are front office people in the NFL who like the idea of taking quarterbacks throughout a draft to increase the chances of finding the right one. But I think using Nos. 1 and 4 would be extreme and counterproductive.
It’s hard enough to get one quarterback, especially a rookie, enough practice and game repetitions to get comfortable. So how would it work with two, with no pecking order? The coach would either pick a favorite on too little information, or the quarterbacks would be constantly looking over their shoulders.
I much prefer what Washington did in 2012, taking Robert Griffin III at No. 2 and Kirk Cousins in the fourth round.
Q: I know it’s a crapshoot, but if the Browns are looking for a RB in the second round, who do you think they go for and at which pick?
A: San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, Georgia’s Sony Michel and USC’s Ronald Jones are attractive options. And if I’m John Dorsey, I’d gamble and hope one’s available at No. 64.
Q: I’ve been a huge fan of Kyle Lauletta out of Richmond for the past couple years. I personally think he should be in the conversation for the best QBs in this draft. Do you know if the Browns are high on him at all?
— David Mullin
A: I don’t know that and haven’t heard his name mentioned. Obviously John Dorsey can’t go that far off the board at the top of the draft. But if Lauletta’s around in the third or fourth round, they could take a flyer on him.
Q: Is Andrew Berry of the Browns personnel department the guy we unloaded Trent Richardson to when he was with the Colts?
— Craig Krems
A: Berry is a vice president of player personnel for the Browns, and, yes, he was pro scouting coordinator for the Colts when the trade was made. But it’s unfair to pin the blame on him when GM Ryan Grigson had final say.
Berry is an up-and-comer and impressed John Dorsey enough to keep his job after Sashi Brown was fired.
Q: Why is Sam Darnold the favorite when he does NOTHING better than Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen?
A: The quick answer is that Darnold is a better complete package than the other quarterbacks in the draft. He has good size, a strong arm, accuracy, athleticism, intelligence and no character issues. I would also argue he’s a better athlete than the quarterbacks you mentioned.