After passing on quarterbacks in each of the last two years, the Cleveland Browns are well-positioned to take one with one of their first two picks this time around. And whether that happens with the first overall selection or three picks later, it will help the Bears.
If you’ve been following us as we follow the mock draft circuit lately, you’ll know there’s a growing consensus that the Browns are probably going to take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick. However, there isn’t a feeling one way or another what the team will do with its second selection. Cleveland could keep it and take the best non-quarterback available (boo!) … or trade it to a quarterback-needy team that is willing to pay handsomely to move up (Yay!).
Obviously, the latter would be good for a team like the Bears, who don’t need and wouldn’t draft a quarterback in the first round, because this would mean *at least* two of the picks ahead of them were used up on a position they won’t be touching (leaving more non-QB top prospects for the taking).
The MMQB’s Peter King shares what he’s heard from a close friend of Browns GM John Dorsey, who thinks they have an idea which direction Cleveland will go in the draft. King trusts this friend of Dorsey enough to share the anecdote in his most recent Sports Illustrated column.
“This friend of Cleveland GM John Dorsey believes he’ll go Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen over Sam Darnold with the first pick, keep the fourth pick, and take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has long-established Allen as the quarterback he believes is the best in this class, but there hasn’t been much chatter surrounding the Browns’ interest in using Pick 1-1 on Allen. If Cleveland chooses Allen, that could leave the Giants to take USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen as Eli Manning’s successor with the second pick. And because the Jets already traded up to the third pick, they will likely take whichever quarterback the Giants pass on.
And if Barkley goes off the board with the fourth pick – as Dorsey’s friend hinted – that would leave the Bears in a fantastic spot.
Think about it positionally:
- Cleveland Browns: QB
- New York Giants: QB
- New York Jets: QB
- Cleveland Browns: RB
- Denver Broncos: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Indianpolis Colts: ?
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ?
- Chicago Bears: ?
If this is how things play out, the Bears are guaranteed to get one of the top five non-QB prospects in the draft. And when you also consider the young and dynamic Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen tandem, they were probably never going to take a running back in the first round either. Which means that the Bears could realistically wind up with one of the top four prospects in the draft, among their positions of need. That’s excellent.
In the end, the Bears’ draft options could hinge on what happens with the Denver Broncos, who have the fifth pick int he draft. Denver could conceivably draft Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson here, as the team looks to protect free agent quarterback Case Keenum. But if they don’t view Keenum as a long-term option, the Broncos could be in the market for a long-term solution at the position too. Oklahoma’s Heisman-winning signal caller Baker Mayfield could be in play – after all, he played on the Senior Bowl North Team led by Broncos head coach Vance Joseph – and that would even further improve the Bears relative spot.
Should the Broncos draft a non-quarterback, all eyes will turn to the Indianapolis Colts. GM Chris Ballard has already traded out of one spot and could do it again to take advantage of a quarterback-thirsty team who has eyes on a signal caller who made it out of the top-5. But if that quarterback isn’t available, that could leave the Colts in a position to take Nelson (because Andrew Luck would certainly appreciate some protection along the front lines) or North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb.
From there, that leaves just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers standing between the Bears and one of the best players in the draft. A scenario where Nelson or Chubb was available to Tampa Bay would be as good as it gets for Chicago. In short, this scenario would end with the Bucs passing on the best pass-rusher in the draft or the best offensive lineman. Tampa Bay has needs at both positions, but can only come away with one. The other would be left for the Bears to pluck with the eighth pick.
Every quarterback whose name gets called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before the Bears go on the clock with the No. 8 pick increases the likelihood of the team getting the best position-player prospect in the draft. For this scenario to play out, the Bears need help from as many teams that pick ahead of them as possible. If three or four quarterbacks go in the top-5, things will be looking awfully good for a best-case scenario unfolding on draft weekend.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.