• Interesting piece by SI’s Peter King in his MMQB column this morning for those that haven’t seen it; Kin g reports on a conversation with a friend of Cleveland GM John Dorsey who believes that the Browns will select Wyoming QB Josh Allen over USC’s Sam Darnold, the consensus favorite to be the first player selected this year. The piece continues with the suggestion that the Browns will hold onto the 4th pick overall and take Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. In fact, while most prognosticators still believe that the Browns will be taking Darnold, the Allen rumblings won’t go away. And it may go right down to the 26th until we find out exactly which of the two gets the call from the Browns. Meanwhile, the Browns could just be trying to build up interest in trading down from the 4th pick, our sources in Cleveland continue to suggest that the Browns are inclined to go for quality over quantity and are indeed leaning toward holding onto the #4 pick and taking what would likely be the top-rated non-QB prospect in this yea’s draft. The one countervailing notion we have picked up out of Cleveland is that the Browns may actually be leaning more toward taking NC State DE Bradley Chubb over Barkley.
• At the same time, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has a column this morning in which he suggests that the Giants interest in Penn State RB Saquon Barkley is more of a smokescreen to entice other teams to trade up with them. According to the article La Canfora:
… spoke to several general managers over the weekend who are watching what the Giants do with the second pick very closely, and all believed that while the Giants surely are big fans of Barkley, a trade is highly likely and there could be more going on here than immediately meets the eye. Two GMs wondered if the Giants were maybe pushing the Barkley button hard in order to drum up trade interest among the teams still desperate to get into position to draft a quarterback, like Buffalo or Arizona. Because it’s not like the second-overall pick is the only spot the Giants can land the running back, and it’s not like they don’t have other needs.
First, let’s consider the Giants supposed interest in Barkley. There is no question that the majority of mock drafts out there have the Giants selecting Barkley with the 2nd pick overall. And that seems to be driven by the fact that both G.M. Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmer said they felt incumbent starting QB Eli Manning still has some tread on the tires when they took over the franchise earlier this year. Bottom line, though, is what else were they going to say. Even if the Giants take a QB with the #2 pick, they will still need a bridge QB and Manning gives them the best chance at success this coming season.
Truth be told, though, the Giants themselves haven’t said much about Barkley. They will have him in for one of their 30 pre-draft visits. However, the Giants didn’t even send so much as their RB coach to his pro day. Some smokescreen! In fact, if the Giants have actually telegraphed anything its that they are all in on the QBs. They had, for example, a 5-man contingent headed by QB coach Mike Shula at the pro days of QBs Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen; then the following week that had an 8-man contingent including head coach Pat Shurmer and assistant G.M. Kevin Abrams attend private workouts of Rosen and Mayfield, as well as the pro days of Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. They also had dinner with Rosen prior to his private workout, a dinner that was also attended by owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. That was no big deal for Tisch who lives in L.A., but Mara had to make a special 3,000 trip to be on hand and then another 3,000 miles home. And you don’t think other teams around the league didn’t notice.
Then there is the notion that the Giants are focusing on Barkley to drum up interest in a trade down. Really! If anything, by feigning interest in selecting Barkley the only signal the Giants would be sending would be that at least one of the top 3 QBs – Darnold, Rosen or Allen – would be available at the #4 pick. And it will be a whole lot cheaper for teams to trade up to #4 with Cleveland than to the Giants at #2. The reality is that if you want people to trade up with you to get the #2 pick in order to take a QB you have to make them think you are going to take one of those QBs and leave them with nothing farther on down the draft. That’s what other teams will have actually seen and while it could be a smokescreen, the more likely scenario is that the Giants are looking at QBs because they are looking at QBs.
• ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper was quoted over the weekend on the Ravens’ team site as saying that the draft status of Alabama WR Calvin Ridley is slipping and that he is more likely to get selected in the latter part of the opening round. As a result, Kiper suggests that the Ravens could go a different direction with their opening round pick such as Maryland WR D.J. Moore. According to Kiper, while Ridley was once the top-rated receiver in this year’s draft class, his stock has slipped as a result of an indifferent performance at the combine which raised questions about his overall athleticism and explosiveness.