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First Overall Pick Odds
Bet on the First Overall Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

Yes I know that Super Bowl LII is right around the corner, but we have all week to get absolutely batty about that game. Why not turn your attention to another football related market like the 2018 NFL Draft? After a pretty entertaining Senior Bowl, the oddsmakers at have coughed up some fresh new odds that are definitely informed by what’s happening around the league.

The Browns have the first overall pick and everyone is saying that they’re going to take a quarterback. The problem with this thinking is that they also have the fourth overall pick. Yes, the Browns have screwed this up many, many, many, many times before but let’s try and give them the benefit of the doubt. They have to get it right one of these times, right?

Josh Allen (+175 to be drafted first overall)
The Wyoming prospect cemented his place as a top quarterback prospect by flinging 9-of-13 completions for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Senior Bowl. People have been absolutely polarized on the guy, with some refuting the Wentz comparisons and others arguing that he is too raw to help a team right now.

Generally, Allen is a step behind his draft classmates in terms of putting it all together. But that’s what coaching is for. I’m about as high on him as any other quarterback because we all know that drafts in almost every league are crapshoots. The 15th and the 50th pick could both end up offering the same value, so why wouldn’t you roll the dice on a guy that could pan out better than the others?

Allen can simply do things on the field that his rivals can not. His arm is bigger and when surrounded by elite talent, like he was at the Senior Bowl, Allen looked immense. The best part is that he seems to be willing to take hits, and bounce back from poor, first half performances. That’s all good stuff.

What Allen does badly is what current Cleveland quarterback also does badly – Kizer was walloped 38 times for sacks because he doesn’t process reads quickly enough, and holds on to the ball for far too long. That’s essentially the biggest downside of Allen, who will grade out tremendously during the combine process.

Then again, this is the Browns we’re talking about. They have no idea what they’re doing, and Allen might be the hopeful messiah that they’ve been praying for but the biggest reason not to bet on the rising star is Todd Haley. The arrival of Haley in Cleveland might signal that the team will go after a veteran passer who can deal with Haley’s - how do I put this nicely – “complicated” schemes.

I’m more willing to bet that Cleveland will offer Kirk Cousins big money than draft a quarterback first overall.

Haley has never had to develop a quarterback. Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger were great before he ever got his hands on them. However, if Haley has influence to impact the draft my guess is that he’d rather go after the rookie that has shown the most poise in a more complicated system.

Which leads us to…

Sam Darnold (+175) and Josh Rosen (+225)
I’m going to make this quick about Darnold – I think that he has the most bust potential of any quarterback in the draft. I just don’t trust the USC prospects. The fact that he almost pulled out of the draft to return to school in order to boost his value, along with his uneven performances in big games, suggests that he might not be mentally tough enough for the NFL. The Browns will be especially careful in regards to this kind of thing. Darnold has not done himself a ton of favors to differentiate himself from his peers. To me, it’s ridiculous that he’s even favored in this NFL Draft prop board.

Rosen has long been regarded as the best quarterback in the draft and man does he look great on the field. Off of the field he acts like a self-important dork who doesn’t have his ego in check, and that’s the main reason a lot of teams have soured on him regardless of his talent. Rosen has also expressed clearly that he doesn’t want to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but if we’re looking at this specifically through the eyes of Jackson and Haley drafting their quarterback of the future, then Rosen is by far the best fit.

However, generational talents don’t just have to be at quarterback and if we’re talking about the Browns desperately needing a homerun, then the other guy on this board worth really talking about is the best running-back.

Saquon Barkley (+650 to be drafted first overall)
To me, Barkley is the no brainer in the draft. Whomever takes him is going to be really, really happy. I’ve had him going to the Giants for a long time, but if the quarterback conversation in the 2018 NFL Draft continues to get more complicated than that only benefits Barkley. Nobody is separating themselves from the other. Allen is too fresh out of the oven, Rosen is a potential nightmare, and Darnold has too many warts to warrant a first overall selection.

Tell me one bad things about Barkley and I will smack you in the mouth. The guy is so mercurially gifted and also benefits from the emergence of rookies Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara. Granted, both those guys got to play with Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks.

But the big x-factor leading me to Barkley is the fact that Cleveland has the fourth overall pick as well. They’re too dumb to trade it for a proper bounty, and the Colts and Giants assumedly have their quarterbacks of the present moment in Manning and Luck. Why wouldn’t the Browns just take Barkley first overall and then let the draft sort out after that?

They’d have a running back to build an offence around, and can then go in any number of directions. Bolster the defense, grab a quarterback for a bit of a cheaper price or whatever.

The remainder of the field includes Baker Mayfield (+1200), Bradley Chubb (+2500) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (+2500) who are all studs. Those last two are the top defenders in the class, and the Browns already swung with Myles Garett last year. They need an offensive boost. Mayfield isn’t there yet and Barkley is as much of an out-of-the-box instant offence guy you can find. If Isaiah Crowell can have a decent season, then imagine what a guy like Barkley can do in Cleveland.

At +650, Barkley also offers some great value on this betting board. The more I look at Cleveland and this draft class, the more convinced I become that the Browns are not drafting a quarterback first overall.

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