One day before the NFL draft, the top of the order is still a mystery, but one 'pivotal' pick could shape it

  • This year’s NFL Draft looks to be a race for quarterbacks, with four quarterbacks expected to go in the top five picks.
  • The Cleveland Browns’ fourth overall pick in the draft could be “pivotal,” according to a report.
  • The Browns could look to trade the fourth pick to a team hoping to get one of the top quarterback prospects.
  • There’s still potential for chaos if the New York Giants make an unexpected decision with the second overall pick.

The first round of the NFL Draft is Thursday, and there’s still a great deal of mystery about how it could shape up.

This year, perhaps more than ever, it looks like the top of the draft will be a scramble for quarterbacks, with as many as four QBs going in the top 10.

It looks certain that the Cleveland Browns will take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, as will the New York Jets with the third pick. While there’s been some talk about the New York Giants potentially moving the second overall pick to a quarterback-needy team, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Browns’ fourth overall pick could be “pivotal” to shaping up the draft.

“The No. 4 pick could be the pivotal spot in the draft,” Rapoport said on NFL Network. “As one decision-maker told me just a couple minutes ago, the Browns are making calls. They are taking calls. They’re having active discussions about what would happen if this quarterback was there if this other quarterback was there.

“They are no doubt going to get their future franchise signal-caller at No. 1. They could help some team, maybe the Bills, maybe the Cardinals, maybe another team who’d want to come all the way up to No. 4. They may help that team get their quarterback.”

Rapoport added that the No. 4 pick this year would likely cost at least a first-round pick next year.

There are five players who most mock drafts have going in the top five – Wyoming’s Josh Allen (QB), USC’s Sam Darnold (QB), UCLA’s Josh Rosen (QB), Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (QB), and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (RB).

As Rapoport reported, the Browns are expected to take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick. Whomever they choose will have a ripple effect on the rest of the draft – teams that are reportedly interested in trading up for a quarterback, like the Bills and Cardinals, are likely waiting to see which players they like are available and when.

The Giants, with the second pick, are also an X-factor of sorts. Mock drafts have them taking Barkley, but there’s still the possibility that they could choose a quarterback or trade down to get extra picks (Rapoport said he believes they will stand still).

If the Giants take Barkley, then the Jets will have their pick of the remaining three quarterbacks. That’s where the Browns’ fourth overall pick could become crucial. If Barkley is off the board and there’s an opportunity to receive more future picks by trading down, the Browns could help another team get their quarterback.

For example, if the Browns take Allen at No. 1, then the Giants draft Barkley, and the Jets select Mayfield (reportedly one of their top prospects), that would leave Rosen and Darnold on the board. A team like the Cardinals or Bills could try to trade up to get one of the two highly coveted passers.

The Denver Broncos, with the fifth overall pick, could also be a wild card. While they reportedly have interest in some quarterbacks, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that the Broncos might be open to trading down in the draft. That could allow another team to sneak into the top five to take one of the remaining top quarterbacks.

Of course, some of this is dependent on the Giants taking Barkley (or any other non-QB prospect) at No. 2. If the Giants decide to take a quarterback or trade down, it could throw the whole order into chaos. Say the Giants take Rosen with the second pick, and then Jets take Mayfield. The Browns may decide to keep the fourth pick and draft Barkley, potentially throwing off another team’s plans to move up for a quarterback.

For this reason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see even more quarterbacks go later in the first round. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson could go just outside of the top 10, and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph has recently received buzz as a first-round quarterback.

The draft could shake out several ways, and it seems increasingly likely that the first few picks could feature some big trades and overall chaos.

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