Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley or Minkah Fitzpatrick with the fourth pick?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: A view of the stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: A view of the stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

During the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns will have a franchise-changing decision to make with not only the first pick but also the fourth.

The logical projection is a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns with the first overall pick. Sure, they could sign Washington Redskins’ sign-caller Kirk Cousins. However, until they do or sign another long-term answer, write in a QB’s name atop the draft.

With Cleveland’s fourth pick though, things could play out a number of different ways. Depending on what happens during free agency, will dictate what they do with their second first-rounder.

A name like NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb is tempting but Cleveland would be better off choosing between two other high-profile prospects. For different reasons, of course, the Browns would benefit from either Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

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Yes, the potential retirement of left tackle Joe Thomas would severely impact the offensive line. On the other hand, their line still has quality starters on it.

Therefore, going the route other successful teams have gone through recent drafts would make sense. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys), Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars) were all first-round picks, and Barkley is expected to be the next star.

Those teams were in a better situation than the Browns are in now, but given their dire need of play-makers, how do they pass him up? With Isaiah Crowell not being the answer and the fact that Cleveland needs help at running back, taking Barkley would be the most logical choice to help the offense.

By many Barkley is the best prospect in the whole draft. For others, he is just the best offensive player available. Since there are many decisions that have to be made prior to late April, maybe come the draft, Cleveland wouldn’t have to go quarterback first.

Barring a major offseason move being made prior to the draft, that won’t happen. There is a possibility that Barkley won’t be available as well. The only chance of that happening would be the Indianapolis Colts taking him third overall, but given their needs, they should go elsewhere.

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Should Cleveland bypass choosing Barkley, it is just a matter of time before everyone places him on the Browns’ list of players they could have had. We all know the names on the list, and because of that, a plan needs to be in place to upgrade the RB position as much as possible another way.

In three seasons, Barkley racked up 3,843 yards, 43 touchdowns, and a 5.7 average on 671 carries. Not to mention the impact he made in the passing game: 102 receptions for 1,195 yards.

The do it all back is a special prospect who would become a fan favorite instantly in Cleveland. Keep in mind however that general manager John Dorsey has a stellar background finding elite players on days two and three of the draft.

With that in mind, he could choose Fitzpatrick and take an RB later.

Just like on offense, the defense needs some help. There are some pieces already in place but not enough. Cleveland needs to add the best values and drafting Fitzpatrick would certainly fit that mindset.

Fitzpatrick, who is currently my top-ranked player, will make a difference wherever he lines up in the secondary.

For Cleveland, Fitzpatrick would do well at corner, but he is best suited for free safety. Teams would regularly game-plan against Fitzpatrick as they focused on making plays on the opposite side of the field he lined up on.

When the combine comes around, expect Fitzpatrick to have insane numbers. While a great combine doesn’t guarantee success in the NFL, his great instincts, IQ, ability to jump routes and make plays on the ball, and the hard-hitting tackling approach he displays (among many other characteristics) puts him in a great spot to do well.

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Whichever way Dorsey goes about drafting, Cleveland is sitting pretty. Whether it is Barkley or Fitzpatrick, the fourth pick will be a win for the Browns.