The Cleveland Browns signed an old friend earlier this week, inking running back Carlos Hyde to a three-year contract. Additionally, the team acquired Tyrod Taylor in a trade, and head coach Hue Jackson said Taylor is their starter this year, and there will be no competition.
Jackson has made emphatic statements about his quarterbacks before and he eventually changed his mind, so take it with a grain of salt. That being said, one has to wonder what this might mean for the team’s draft plans. The Browns hold the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, which puts them in a position to get impact players on both sides of the ball.
Mock drafts have had the team looking at a quarterback with the top pick, and then someone like defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 4. But of late, rumors have percolated that the team might consider Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the top pick. I would be surprised if they did not pick a quarterback, but the rumors persist, nonetheless.
I came across another interesting report, this time regarding the No. 4 pick. Denver radio host Benjamin Allbright has done solid work in breaking a lot of news, and he thinks Denzel Ward could be in play at No. 4.
As I talked about with @NathanZegura earlier this week...if you're the mock drafting type, you should probably start considering Denzel Ward at #4 overall.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 16, 2018
Fitzpatrick has been the common name as the first defensive back off the board, but either he could end up going higher, or maybe he slips. The New York Giants could be in the market for Saquon Barkley, and the Indianapolis Colts have been connected to Bradley Chubb.
But if Ward ends up creeping into the top five picks, to go along with all the quarterbacks that could be selected ahead of the San Francisco 49ers, it opens the door for a serious piece of talent to slip to them. The names being mentioned in connection with the Browns are unlikely to slip to the 49ers, although surprises do happen. But it provides room for some notable talent to slip.