NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft

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Sam Darnold

Quarterback, USC

The Cleveland Browns now have Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. But that changes nothing.

The Browns haven’t drafted a quarterback in the top five of the NFL Draft since 1999, when they selected Tim Couch No. 1 overall. Since then, however, they have drafted three quarterbacks in the first round. In fact, coincidentally, each quarterback was selected with the No. 22 pick. Their names?

Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, and Johnny Manziel.

You’d think the Cleveland Browns would learn their lesson by now. No, drafting a quarterback No. 1 overall isn’t a guarantee of success. But as the Cleveland Browns know well, the odds of success drop significantly outside of the top five. That doesn’t mean you can’t find starters. The Packers found Aaron Rodgers. And the Raiders found Derek Carr.

But the Browns have stubbornly held onto this strategy, and it has gotten them nowhere. It’s time for John Dorsey to change the narrative and grab his franchise quarterback, once and for all. By most accounts, that franchise quarterback is USC’s Sam Darnold.

Darnold is far from a polished product, but he offers tantalizing potential for the Cleveland Browns. Darnold’s arm isn’t the cannon Josh Allen’s is, but it’s not far off, and as far as accuracy goes, Darnold is worlds ahead of Allen. This doesn’t mean Darnold doesn’t miss. Darnold’s passes can get away from him, and his fundamentals are a bit sloppy. But despite all that, Darnold has the arm talent and football I.Q. that teams look for. And that’s why the Browns will likely pick him here.

Darnold doesn’t have to start right away. It would be good for him to get that experience. But that’s what Tyrod Taylor, a decent bridge quarterback, is for. If Darnold isn’t ready, then the Browns can let Taylor start a few games. But if he is, then they should not hesitate to start the next era of Browns football.

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