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Darnold Locks In Top Spot

A source of purely entertaining speculation for me has been analyzing what the oddsmakers have been doing with the NFL Draft futures. The board has essentially remained the same in terms of the players, but the odds have been fluctuating ever since February. And now it seems we have a very clear favorite.

Sam Darnold of USC is now listed at -400, which are the heaviest odds of anyone there. It’s easy to pick on Darnold because he’s a USC Trojan, but also since he looks like the lovechild of Mark Sanchez and Carson Palmer who are also almus of a high profile school that routinely produces lackluster NFL talent at the quarterback position.

It’s been much of the same hyperbole for Darnold – “can make all the throws blah blah blah blah blah”. If you’ve been watching football for much of your adult life, the stuff they say about prospective rookies is the same every damn year.

It’s strange that Darnold would be the top rated quarterback for the Cleveland Browns given that he’s not even the best passer in the draft. That honor goes to Josh Rosen, who has been essentially blacklisted from the top overall pick at +1200. Rosen apparently has a lot of warts that mostly come with his personality.

It doesn’t help that Jim Mora, his former coach at UCLA, has been backing up a school bus over his reputation for the last few weeks. Mora infamously said that he’d rather take Darnold as a fit for the Browns, and that Rosen needs to be “intellectually stimulated” in a weird way.

I don’t know what that means. I was under the impression that quarterbacking an NFL team was really complicated to begin with. Rosen’s stock has been taking hits all off-season, but nobody disagrees on his obscene potential. The major reason that Rosen has been given such distant odds is that he’s flat out said that he doesn’t want to be drafted by Cleveland.

2018 NFL Draft Props – Overall #1 Pick - per
Sam Darnold -400
Josh Allen +250
Saquon Barkley +400
Josh Rosen +1200
Bradley Chubb +2000
Minkah Fitzpatrick +6600
Field +3300

The needs for Cleveland are apparent. Though they’ve stockpiled a tremendous volume of assets over the last couple months, there’s still no conviction from any handicapper stating that this team is going to be good. They’re totally fantastic on paper. The combination of Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon alone is enough to get people excited.

If you’re off the mindset that Tyrod Taylor is a totally average quarterback, and can do the job for a little bit, then the Browns actually have two other priorities – running back and defence. This is where this particular board gets very spicy.

I’ve long advocated for Saquon Barkley as the first overall pick because I think he’s the best player. Darnold, Rosen, Josh Allen and the quarterback class doesn’t seem transcendent to me in the least bit. Barkley is a talent from beyond this world and we’ve seen time and again that the running-back position is as important as they come. Barkley’s odds at +400 remain very enticing and they should. It’s the Browns – they could literally do anything with the first overall pick.

Those of you looking for a real, serous longshot don’t have to search farther than Bradley Chubb, the top rated defensive lineman on the board. Minkah Fitzpatrick has drawn seriously high praise, but Chubb has already received acclaim from head coach Hue Jackson.

Beyond that, defensive linemen have recently made from great first overall picks. Jadeveon Clowney was taken in 2014 and has been a Pro Bowler tice, while Mario Williams was a four time Pro Bowler after being selected first overall in 2006. To that end, the Browns also took Myles Garrett first overall last year and pairing him with Chubb would make this one of the most feared defences in the league right away.

For the most part, this is a notoriously tough bet to really nail down when there isn’t a clear cut first overall. All the top quarterbacks are flawed in some way, and the muddying the water is that the Browns have the 1st and 4th overall picks with the Giants and Jets picking in between.

If the Browns leave Chubb on the board, he’s off to the Giants to replace Jason Pierre-Paul, while Rosen is an ideal fit for the New York Jets who whiffed on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. That would shape how the Browns try to hairpin the draft. They have an incredible opportunity to boost their team, and a multitude of directions they could go in.

A quarterback doesn’t have to go to Cleveland in Round 1 and with Darnold receiving such heavy odds, it’s much more tantalizing to try and jackpot this market by taking Chubb or Barkley.

I mean, it’s the Browns. You know they’re going to do something silly. Migh as well make some money off if, right?

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