Sam Darnold is projected to be the first pick in the NFL draft by some analysts. (Mark J. Terrill/AP).
April 26 will mark a life-changing event for the young men looking to make a dream come true. This year’s National Football League (NFL) Draft is highlighted by five quarterbacks that could potentially be drafted in the first round. The Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots are the only teams with two first-round picks. Which quarterback do the Browns take? Are the Patriots angling to draft the successor to Tom Brady? Where does Saquon Barkley get drafted? The drama and the suspension are what make the NFL Draft a major event for NFL fans.
Sam Darnold has been hailed by many mock drafters as the number one pick in the draft. He has been described as a “safe choice” for the Browns because he can sit out a year as Tyrod Taylor plays out a year or two, like the way the Chiefs had Alex Smith play all last season to have Patrick Mahomes succeed him. However, Josh Allen has emerged from various sources as a contender to be the number one overall pick. A report from The Ringer has also claimed that the Browns are considering drafting two quarterbacks.
Reports like these show that the quarterbacks in this draft have their flaws and the advantages for each of the five quarterbacks are not strong enough to say which one will be better than the other. Darnold has stepped up for the University of Southern California in big games, but his turnover issues are cited as the main concern for him. Allen statistically ranks the lowest out of the top five quarterbacks but playing at the University of Wyoming may have been the cause of what is making scouts think that with a better situation, Allen can blossom into a better quarterback like the one he was in college. Josh Rosen has been praised as being the most professionally-ready quarterback, but scouts are not so sure what his ceiling could be. Baker Mayfield has great accuracy and the tools of a leader, but his size and arm strength could make him a bust. Lamar Jackson might not even be drafted in the first round if teams do not believe he can be the next big thing.
Jackson has all the tools for the modern game. He has played under Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville where they run a pro-style passing offense, making him ready for day one if need be. He throws a great deep ball, and his ability to escape the pocket makes him a matchup nightmare. Concerns over his accuracy are legitimate, but not many people are convinced Jackson can succeed in the NFL for a myriad of reasons, including the idea of whether or not he should play wide receiver.
One team that does not see him as a wide receiver is the New England Patriots. Along with their own first-round pick, they also traded Brandin Cooks for the Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick, igniting a debate over what the Patriots will do with their two first round picks. Analysts have theorized that Jackson could be drafted by the Patriots as a successor to Brady. Jackson’s passing and physical abilities combined with Josh McDaniels’ ability to get the most out of his players would, in theory, create the perfect plan for the post-Brady era. The retirement of left tackle Nate Solder would lead one to believe that they will use one of those picks on a lineman, but Bill Belichick does not have much of a history of drafting offensive lineman in the first round. Fans should expect some sort of big move for the Patriots, whether it is drafting Jackson, drafting quality players or trading down for more picks to strength the roster.
Barkley is the clear top offensive talent in this year’s draft. Where he will go is unknown. What the Giants do at the number two spot will alter how the draft plays out. Will the Giants draft Eli Manning’s replacement? Will they draft the top offensive lineman Quinten Nelson? The Giants drafting Barkley will symbolize the confidence the front office have in Manning, but Barkley will succeed wherever he goes because of his talent and adaptability in any system.
This year’s NFL offseason has been highlighted by a high number of trades. Expect the same for the NFL Draft. The Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals are looking to get a quarterback, so they will try to trade up to get one of the top five quarterbacks.
One player has the potential to change a season for team but that scenario does not always go to plan. The NFL Draft serves as a good litmus test for fans to see how their team can project in the future, but most importantly, the NFL Draft is a stepping stone for the anticipation of the return to NFL action.