Brugler: Browns Should Take Sam Darnold No. 1

After passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, the Browns need to draft their QB of the future

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 19, 2018 - 9:56 am

The Cleveland Browns, many assume, will select a quarterback No. 1 overall in next week’s NFL Draft. But which quarterback will they choose?

“To me, the top quarterback is Sam Darnold,” senior draft analyst Dane Brugler said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Look, the Browns, we know two years ago they passed on Carson Wentz. Last year, they passed on Deshaun Watson. They have the top pick in one of the better quarterback classes we’ve seen in the last few years. With Sam Darnold, he’s the youngest of the group. He’s the least experienced. Yet I feel really comfortable with who he is already and I feel even more comfortable with who he’ll be two to three years from now.”

Darnold completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for USC last season. 

“He shows he can command the mental battle it takes at the quarterback position, he can anticipate passing windows, he’s really good improvising on the move, throwing from different platforms, and just creating a little bit of magic under pressure when it doesn’t look like it’s there,” Brugler said. “Does he need to cut down on the turnovers? Yes, there’s no question. But that’s something that I think will come with more experience. So if I’m the Browns, Darnold is where I’m going at No. 1.”

If Darnold goes No. 1, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen could be the next quarterbacks off the board – unless Baker Mayfield has something to say about it.

“With Baker, you’re really encouraged by the accuracy that he shows and the type of competitor (he is),” Brugler said. “The worry for me is just transitioning from an Oklahoma offense that was tailor made for his skill set and what he does – and against Big 12 defenses – and then playing behind a really strong offensive line that kept him clean, gave him the time to work across the field, make whole-field reads, work down the seam. Can he consistently make those outside-the-number throws in the NFL that he’ll need to make on a consistent basis to be a consistent NFL starter? To me, I see a guy stylistically similar to Jeff Garcia. That’s a good thing.”

Garcia played in the NFL for more than a decade and threw for 31 and 32 touchdowns, respectively, in 2000 and 2001.

“Jeff Garcia, people forget, went to a couple of Pro Bowls in his peak with the 49ers,” Brugler said. “You can win with players like that. With Baker, as long as you’re comfortable with the person that he is, the competitive nature (that he has), I think you feel comfortable with him as a player and as a person. You’re going to look at him in the first round and he’s going to be awfully appealing, especially when some of these other top quarterbacks go ahead of him.”