ESPN’s Todd McShay came out with his first NFL mock draft in December and pegged Penn State’s Saquon Barkley as the Cleveland Browns’ running back of the future.
That stayed the same in mock draft 2.0.
McShay believes Barkley — his top overall prospect — will be scooped up by Cleveland at No. 4 in April’s draft.
“He’s the best player in the draft,” McShay wrote.
So, why wouldn’t the running back go No. 1? Well, the Browns have an obvious need at quarterback. They’re hoping to select a signal-caller that will put an end to the jersey of endless names.
In McShay’s scenario, the Browns select USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 1 overall pick.
Darnold and Barkley have seen each other up close already. In last season’s Rose Bowl — a high-scoring, instant classic — Barkley put up 306 all-purpose yards while Darnold posted 453 passing yards. They combined for eight touchdowns in the Trojans’ 52-49 win.
Both of those dynamic players in one backfield would be dangerous.
Yes, it’s still the Browns. But Cleveland has an opportunity to really make positive strides.
“They have a real chance to finish off a home run draft in this scenario,” McShay added.
Now, this scenario could totally fall apart if Cleveland lands Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Barkley could go No. 1 in that case; the Browns could also decide to focus on one of many other needs, namely cornerback, wideout and defensive end.
It’s still February after all, and a lot can change from now until April.
But Barkley should go early in the first round. Really early. Everything, including McShay’s mock draft, points to that.