Orlovsky: Browns Should Take Darnold, Not Barkley, No. 1

Darnold is "like Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger combined"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 15, 2018 - 10:33 am

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The Cleveland Browns signed Carlos Hyde to a three-year, $15-million deal Wednesday, making it less likely that they will draft Saquon Barkley with the first overall pick.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky couldn’t be happier. 

“Running backs don’t change franchises,” Orlovsky said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There’s not an example – more than maybe one – in the last 30 years where a running back has absolutely changed the face of a franchise. It just doesn’t happen because the position is such a small window for success in the NFL. So that’s my thing with everyone’s argument of taking Saquon Barkley first.”

But doesn’t Barkley’s all-world Combine performance matter? Not to Orlovsky.

“Did everyone expect Barkley to go to the Combine and just have pedestrian numbers?” Orlovsky asked. “We knew he was going to blow it up athletically.”

Orlovsky believes that the Browns, who have the first and fourth overall picks, should draft a quarterback No. 1. He does not think that Cleveland should draft quarterbacks, as some have suggested, at No. 1 and No. 4.

“John Dorsey and the Browns aren’t going to fall in love with four quarterbacks,” he said. “There’s going to be one guy in this draft that they look at and go, ‘We really think he’s got a chance to be a really good NFL quarterback.’ The reality is every year in the NFL, there’s 10 good quarterbacks – maybe 11 give or take. And there’s some good to really good to great, and that number pretty much stays the same. We’re kidding ourselves if we think there’s three or four in this draft that are just all of a sudden going to happen to be really good quarterbacks in the NFL."

Quarterback, of course, has been the Browns' biggest problem in recent years. They have simply struggled to find stability under center.

“The Browns are where they are and have had the narrative that they’ve had over the last decade not because they’ve missed a running back, but because they’ve missed a franchise quarterback,” Orlovsky said. “You’re in the position you’re in right now with the first pick because you need a franchise quarterback, so take advantage of some of your failures and find your franchise quarterback finally. That’s my thing with this narrative or the conversation of ‘(Take) Saquon Barkley at 1 and find a quarterback you like at 4.’ That’s just unrealistic and bad business.”

While every quarterback prospect has pros and cons, Orlovsky believes one player is a cut above the rest. 

“For me, I think Sam Darnold should be the No. 1 pick,” Orlovsky said. “He’s my favorite quarterback in the draft. I do like Josh Rosen. The reason I like Darnold the most is Darnold’s got this magical sloppiness to his game where everything he does is sloppy. The bad stuff is because he gets sloppy, but the good stuff is because he gets sloppy. He’s got this magic to his game. I look at him like Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger combined. When you watch them play, they have this (recess element to their game). They move around. You watch them make some plays and you scratch your head and (say), ‘How does that guy do that?’ Darnold’s got that to his game. It’s this ability you can’t coach. He’s born with it. 

“I just love that aspect about his game because it’s such an integral part of the quarterback position in the NFL right now,” Orlovsky continued. “You’ve got to be able to be a little bit creative and make things happen in the pocket – especially if you go to the Browns because you’re going to a team that isn’t loaded talent-wise. You’re going to have to be creative with some stuff. Josh Rosen, who I do like, (is) very accurate and he’s very refined. But the thing he doesn’t have is that creativity, what I call that magical sloppiness Darnold has to make a very average play a special one.”