ESPN NFL draft insider Mel Kiper Jr is taking heat from fans for his latest mock draft. The long time draft analyst is well known for the occasional left field projection but he is coming under a lot of flack for this one in particular.
The Cleveland Browns own the first and fourth picks in the draft, and it is widely expected that they will use one of these picks on a quarterback.
The 2018 quarterback class is both strong, and polarising, and the Browns could well select any one of four guys with either of their first round picks. USC QB Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Josh Allen of Wyoming, and Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield could all feasibly hear their names called by the commissioner as a selection by Cleveland.
GM John Dorsey has his work cut out to choose between the four, or add a high profile free agent like Kirk Cousins.
The popular opinion is that the Browns should go with one of the two California based signal callers should they pull the trigger on a QB with the first pick. That is no dead cert though, considering the highly touted Saquon Barkley will be hard to pass on with the knowledge that they own the number four pick as well.
Darnold has the most upside, displaying rare playmaking ability and leadership in his time at USC, though there are concerns surrounding his tendency to turn the ball over.
Rosen, on the other hand, doesn't have the high ceiling, but is considered more NFL ready having played in a pro style offense and displaying outstanding ability as a pure pocket passer.
Mayfield isn't really making a splash as a candidate to go number one overall due to his lack of ideal size and arm strength, whilst Allen is by far the most polarising of the quartet.
The 6'5, 235 pounder out of Wyoming has rare arm talent that scouts are comparing to Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton. He also has ample mobility and extends plays well with his legs.
However, his inconsistency in the pocket, coupled with his worryingly low career completion percentage of 56.2 playing in a lesser division, make him a hard prospect to judge.
Allen did have a strong week at the Senior Bowl last month, showing improvement each day under the tutelage of NFL coaches, and that was clearly enough to convince Kiper of his suitability to the Browns.
In his latest mock draft, Kiper projects Allen to Cleveland with the number one pick in the 2018 draft.
He says of the exciting QB prospect: "Allen had a strong week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, improving every day. "
"The NFL statistical comp I make to Allen: Matthew Stafford, who completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 39 games at Georgia and still went No. 1 overall. And Stafford had better talent around him."
If Allen turns out to be as good as Stafford, the first pick in the 2009 draft, the Browns would be in good shape going forward.
However, fans on reddit are shredding the ESPN analyst for the selection: "I see Mel Kiper is prepared to die on the Josh Allen to Browns hill" noted one fan.
Another posited that Kiper must be getting his Josh's mixed up- "At this point I think he's confused and thinks Josh Allen is actually Josh Rosen and Josh Rosen is actually Josh Allen. No way we take Allen first and then Rosen falls to 11"
"Seriously, why are people so high on Allen? The kid's clearly is a long-term project that should ride the bench for a few years before starting, ala Aaron Rodgers." a Packer fan questioned.
Though Allen is far from a safe pick, Kiper isn't on an island with this one. The majority of draft experts agree on his inclusion within the top three QB's in the class and there isn't really one who has been able to separate from the group thus far in the process.
However, with pro day's and the combine to come next month, the picture will become a whole lot clearer.
To Kiper's credit, he acknowledged that the combine testing could well force him into a change of stance: "Upcoming combine testing, medicals, pro days and individual workouts are extremely important to the process, and draft boards will change a lot based on those." he wrote.
Sure, the face of the draft for ESPN has been wildly wrong on some projections in the past, but this one isn't outlandish on the face of things. The Browns need a quarterback, they will likely draft one, and Allen is amongst the best three or four in the class.
He is also a big bodied guy, who will work well in the cold environment having played up in Wyoming. The Browns tendency to draft smaller, finesse passers in the past has come under major scrutiny considering they play in an outdoor stadium in a northern division.
John Dorsey will certainly be taking that into account when considering the four guys previously mentioned.
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