Jared Stanton – Tuesday 6 March 2018

It seems like we say this every year, but the Cleveland Browns have a serious opportunity to turn things around this coming offseason.

With more than $109 million in unused cap space, a talented offensive line, Josh Gordon’s resurgence, and an impressive group of young playmakers on defense, the 0-16 Browns only have two major holes that need to be filled on what is otherwise a surprisingly talented roster.

One of these holes is obviously at quarterback, and the other one lies at running back.
Now, assuming that the Browns do not sign a new starting quarterback in free agency, they could then choose to approach the draft in two ways:

1. They could take a quarterback at number one, and then draft the best player available at number four…

2. Or they could take SaQuon Barkley at number one, and likely still have three (possibly even four) great quarterbacks choose from with their next pick.

I personally believe that taking Barkley first overall should be a no-brainer for the Cleveland Browns, and before you call me crazy, just hear me out.

Prior to the combine, there were many who already had Barkley pegged as the best player available regardless of his position, and what he just did a couple of days ago at the combine all but sealed the deal.

Let’s have a closer look at his Combine results shall we?

  • Joe Thomas benched 225lbs for 28 reps back in 2007, but SaQuon Barkley just did it for 29 reps.
  • DeSean Jackson recorded a time of 1.55 seconds in the 10-yard split back in 2008, but SaQuon Barkley just recorded a time of 1.54 seconds.
  • Devin Hester ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds back in 2006, but SaQuon Barkley just ran it in a clean 4.40 seconds.
  • Julio Jones recorded a 38.5 inch vertical leap back in 2011, but SaQuon Barkley just recorded a 41 inch vertical.

Ultimately, this running back is 5’11” 233lbs of pure muscle, and he is stronger than Joe Thomas, quicker than DeSean Jackson, faster than Devin Hester, and he jumps higher than Julio Jones. But he is not just your typical combine athlete either…

Barkley also brings with him a proven body of work from his time at Penn State, having put up 5,557 all-purpose yards and 51 total touchdowns over his three year collegiate career.
He can run, he can catch, he can block, he can do it all.

When it comes to quality quarterbacks, 2018 appears to be one of those rare years in which the draft has plenty to go around.

Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield each have bright futures as potential franchise quarterbacks, and as it stands right now, there is not a whole lot differentiating them from one another.

IF Cleveland decides to bypass Barkley with the first overall selection next month, then watching him getting potentially taken by either the Giants or the Colts is something that fans can bank on.

If you were GM John Dorsey, how on earth could you possibly justify choosing a quarterback at number one, when you could have likely taken him at number four anyway?
Especially when it would mean that you are settling for just a “decent” running back later on?

The way I see it, I would much rather take the “elite” running back, and then feel content knowing that I cannot miss out on a great young quarterback just a few moments later.
A game-changing, generational freak of nature such as Barkley only comes around every so often, and honestly, this new adage that running backs are not valuable enough to be taken this high needs to stop.

I mean, sure, there are plenty of good runners who have been taken in the mid-late rounds, but basically every position in football has productive players who were steals on draft night.

What do Ezekiel Elliot, Todd Gurley, and Leonard Fournette each have in common, besides the fact that they have all driven their team’s offensive s

uccess from the minute they entered the league? They were each chosen early, and rightly so.

I can guarantee that the Oakland Raiders would definitely consider Adrian Peterson at number one if they could re-do the 2007 draft, and if a player is truly good enough, then he is worthy of being chosen first overall regardless of his position.

There is every chance that the top two players on Cleveland’s board are SaQuon Barkley, then any one of either Rosen/Allen/

Darnold/Mayfield.

Barkley has more collegiate production and athletic ability than any of the four backs that I have just mentioned, so why does he not deserve to be taken higher?

By using their first pick on Barkley, the Browns are maximising their chances of landing the two players in which they covet the most, and with a very good offensive line already in place, they can also insure that the best possible talent is being placed behind it for the foreseeable future.

It is simply time for the Browns to STOP MESSING AROUND, and time for them to start adding explosive players who can take over games on offense!

They can try to do this by taking a quarterback first, and then praying that Barkley slides (which he will not), or they can take Barkley first, and still get their quarterback of the future at number four.

It’s up to you Cleveland, just try not to stuff this up!

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Jared Stanton is our Chief NFL Writer and an avid NFL supporter and member of the ever-growing Australian NFL Connection Facebook Page. For more news and updates across #VaultNation please like us on Twitter at @TheVault_Studio or like us on Facebook (The Vault Studio)

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