The Cleveland Browns‘ draft got simpler Wednesday night.
The pick here is Darnold, the best pocket passer in the draft and a guy with size, arm strength and the ability to play the position.
Rosen is close in ability — Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him as the top-ranked quarterback — but given his obliquely stated preference not to play in Cleveland, the Browns would be wise to go with Darnold.
That would give them two young quarterbacks in Darnold and DeShone Kizer, whose final game of 2017 against Pittsburgh was impressive enough that he has to be in the mix.
Add a veteran who can play if needed and the Browns would be even better served. The thinking on Darnold is he is the best prospect, but he might not be ready to play right away.
That thinking can change. Carson Wentz was supposed to sit behind Sam Bradford as a rookie, but he earned the right to be on the field for the Eagles in 2016. The same could happen with Darnold and Kizer.
If the Browns could head toward the 2018 season with a quarterback group that includes a veteran, Kizer and Darnold, it would be a quantum upgrade from the 2017 group that featured a rookie Kizer, Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler.
The Browns don’t need to overthink this. Taking Darnold is the best option, though if their rankings have Rosen as the clear better choice, so be it. Take him, then chuckle if he threatens to sit out. Either way, it’s a clear picture.
As for the No. 4 overall pick, this is also simple.
Barkley would step in for Isaiah Crowell, who appears likely to leave via free agency. Fitzpatrick, who has the ability to play corner and the versatility to play any secondary position, could step in immediately.
There are some who say the defensive back takes precedence over a running back and that it’s not wise to take a running back fourth. There might be merit to the thinking. Teams have had success finding backs in lower rounds; Crowell was undrafted. A top defensive back can make a huge difference to a defense.
But Barkley is a special player who’s worth going against the grain. Think Todd Gurley when pondering if drafting a running back high is wise. There would be nothing wrong with Barkley at No. 4.
The draft in some years is a complex web of tough decisions. In other years, the picture is clear.
This year, the Browns are fortunate. The picture is clear.
With the first pick, they should take Darnold (with Rosen as the alternate). With the fourth pick, it should be whoever is left or better ranked between Barkley and Fitzpatrick.