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Browns should go with Baker Mayfield in tonight’s NFL draft

The clock is ticking toward tonight’s NFL Draft.

And soon, the Cleveland Browns will officially be on the clock with the No. 1 pick.

After months of speculation about what the Browns will do with the first pick and how the draft will go with a gazillion mock drafts, real picks will finally be made starting tonight.

What will the Browns do with the No 1 pick?

Will they trade the spot for more draft picks? No, they’re going to stand pat and make the first selection.

Who will that be, a quarterback? Yes, most likely.

Well, who then? Well, who knows?

Really, no one knows other than the Browns’ brass who will make the decision, and I’m not convinced they even know for sure who they are taking. It might just be a game-time decision.

The latest speculation is that the Browns are going all-in with Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma.

But are the Browns just putting out “fake news” as their insiders drop hints to the reporters trying to get the scoop out of Cleveland?

Will the Browns actually change course and go with the so-called best player on the board? That would be Penn State running back Sequon Barkley, in my opinion and many others, too. He’s special and might be the closest thing to a can’t-miss player in this draft class.

Or will the Browns, who truthfully have many needs, almost totally surprise us all and go defense, as in picking North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who rates as a “safe pick” for any team.

If the Browns do this – remember they also have the fourth pick – they could then get their quarterback three picks later.

They won’t do this, though. Chubb will be there at No. 4 because the New York Giants and New York Jets, who pick second and third, will not be picking a pass rusher with their first-round picks.

The Giants will take Barkley if the Browns don’t. Or, chances are they will take whoever they think is the best quarterback prospect if the Browns did decide on the Nittany Lions running back and start their preparations for life after Eli Manning.

And, the Jets are going quarterback all the way. Word is their guy is Mayfield and they will bring him to the Big Apple if he doesn’t go first or second. But who would be their second choice? That we would have to find out tonight.

The direction this draft will go will be determined by the Browns who are holding everyone else hostage right now with the No. 1 pick and the uncertainty of what they will actually do with it.

My guess is they do indeed go with a quarterback, but it will be interesting to see who they take and thus who they agree with among all those with an opinion on who they should take if they go quarterback.

There is not a consensus top choice among the signal-callers in this draft group.

Some like Sam Darnold from Southern Carolina. He is said to have a lot of upside.

Others like Josh Rosen out of UCLA. His supporters say he might be the most NFL-ready coming out of college.

Some like Josh Allen who is making news today for some old tweets from his high-school days that have resurfaced and have created a stir because they included racial slurs. Allen, out of Wyoming, is the best quarterback on the board if you ask ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.

And then there’s Mayfield who Kiper now has going No. 1 to the Browns.

Well, I’m no Mel Kiper and by no means do I have any business being the general manager of an NFL team. But if you were to ask me what I would do if I were calling the shots in Cleveland – and let’s pretend you just did – then I also would go with the gunslinger for the Sooners.

His critics think he’s the next Johnny Manziel who the Browns chose in the first round of the 2014 draft. Manziel lasted just two seasons in the NFL as he struggled both on the field and off.

Manziel also was a Heisman winner and also was considered undersized for an NFL quarterback at 6-foot even.

Mayfield, who like Johnny Football is a dual-threat quarterback, stands just barely over 6 feet and he also has been involved in some off-field incidents that may be a cause of concern for some NFL teams in regards to his character.

But Mayfield has beaten the odds throughout his career and plays with a chip on his shoulder that is the result of people saying he isn’t this and can’t do that.

The guy is a winner. He is a play-maker and many think he might be the next Brett Favre.

Well, I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on him, but I think he’s more Favre than Manziel.

He wasn’t a product of the Oklahoma pass-happy system. He made the pass-happy system work with his accuracy, scrambling ability and toughness.

Yes, the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense that included sure-fire first-round choice Roquan Smith at linebacker slowed down Mayfield and the Sooners in the second half of the Rose Bowl game.

But I also saw what Mayfield did to that great Georgia defense in the first half when he led the high-powered Sooners to touchdowns on five of their first six possessions while throwing for 200 yards before halftime.

I agree with Georgia’s Davin Bellamny that Mayfield needs to humble himself, and playing for the Browns might just be the humbling experience he needs.

But Mayfield can be a winner in Cleveland just like he was in Norman.

The Browns can make it happen by taking him first overall tonight and then surrounding him with better players going forward.

The choice is theirs, but for my money, I’m a Mayfield man.

Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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