Cleveland Browns: Please don’t draft Penn State’s Saquon Barkley at 1 or 4

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley /

A simple request to Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey to not draft RB Saquon Barkley with either of the team’s first-round picks.

Bust out the “I’m coming home” music! Former Ohio State Buckeye Carlos Hyde will be returning to the great state of Ohio to play running back for the Cleveland Browns.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Hyde inked a three-year deal worth more than $15 million. He will earn $6 million for the 2018 season.

Hyde and Duke Johnson. That’s a solid backfield for an up and coming team like the rebuilding Browns. That means Cleveland is going to steer clear of drafting a running back at No. 1 or 4, right?

Certainly, they would focus on quarterback, defensive line, cornerback or offensive line. Well, apparently not according to Adam Schefter. He explained on

"“The agreement to sign Hyde does not eliminate Saquon Barkley from the Browns’ draft board, according to a league source familiar with the team’s thinking. The Browns are keeping their options open, and that means Barkley remains part of the discussion with either of their first-round draft picks. Nobody is ruled out,” the source said of the way the Browns view the draft board."

Now there is a big difference between “significantly being in the mix” and “not ruling anyone out”. I agree with not ruling anyone out.

Player movement through trades and free agency changes draft priorities for teams and you always need to be ready for the next move. What I’m here to tell Browns fans is that our team is not yet ready to take a Barkley so he should not be in the mix.

Why are you hating on Barkley, man?

Please don’t take this as any sign of disrespect to Barkley. He deserves all the hype of being a top pick in this year’s draft. Say the Browns traded back and he fell to them later. I would have no problem selecting him.

Great vision, tackle breaking ability, catches the ball very well, fantastic size, these are all traits he possesses. If you don’t believe me, check out the video below:

Now that is just a small taste of what he can do, but hopefully that will be in another uniform. Let explain why.

The case for not drafting Barkley:

The Browns’ roster is not in position to take a player like Barkley. It’s as simple as that. The team still needs players at premium positions that should be filled using those top draft picks.

Cleveland is still in the market for a franchise quarterback, an elite cornerback, a replacement for former left tackle Joe Thomas, and someone opposite Myles Garrett who can command double teams.

If you look at the recent super bowl participants, you will see two common team building philosophies:

  1. Build around your franchise QB and let them take you to the promise land. Ex. Tom Brady (2016 SB Champ), Matt Ryan (2016), Cam Newton (2015)
  2. Build a dominant defensive line that can rush the passer with four guys. Ex. Philadelphia Eagles (2017), Denver Broncos (2015)

None of these teams are taking running backs with top picks because they know they can find them in later rounds or in free agency. In my opinion, running back should be the final piece of a championship puzzle rather than an essential building block of the roster.

The position relies entirely too much on factors the player cannot control; scheme, offensive line play, quarterback play, etc.

If you were to follow a model of drafting a running back in the top five, the Jacksonville Jaguars with Leonard Fournette and Dallas Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott are great examples.

The Cowboys built one of the most dominant offensive lines, had an established QB in Tony Romo, and elite wide receiver in Dez Bryant to bring secondary players out of the box. ‘Zeke was the final piece they needed to become a dominant offensive force.

The Jaguars nabbed Fournette after building one of the greatest defenses we have ever seen, along with having quarterback stability with Blake Bortles.

What is the common theme with those scenarios? Both of those were the final piece that propelled these teams to playoff runs.

The Browns are not in the same position as those teams. Cleveland doesn’t have an established quarterback or an elite defense that can carry a below average offense.

Cleveland striving to be in that position, but in reality, the team went 0-16 last year.

To summarize my thoughts, the Browns have no business drafting Barkley at one or four in the draft. This doesn’t mean that Barkley is a bad prospect or he couldn’t be a star if the Browns drafted him.

It means they have to many holes on the roster at premium positions (QB, CB, DE, OT) and they cannot afford to waste one of those picks at running back.

Next: Why another RB still needs to be added even after signing Hyde

Dorsey isn’t going to just take Barkley off his draft board after the Hyde signing. Unless something goofy happens where Barkley starts to fall or the Browns trade back, I wouldn’t expect him in Cleveland this upcoming season.