For years now, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold have been compared to each other. Two SoCal guys with crazy talent, playing college ball at UCLA and USC, having monster moments and some not so great moments. All season long, there has been the question of whether or not Rosen or Darnold would enter the 2018 Draft. And yesterday, within minutes of each other, we received the answer: both are going.
Of course they are. That doesn’t mean it was a slam dunk easy decision, but as I always say, if you have that lottery ticket, you’ve got to cash it as quickly as possible. I know I had Michigan State stud Miles Bridges on the show yesterday and he decided not to cash that ticket last year, but you heard how much Tom Izzo practically pressured him into leaving. That’s how serious it is. And how rare it is for someone like Bridges to stay another year. Because as good as college is, and it is great, that’s one more year of playing for free, risking an injury or a bad season that costs you millions, and it takes one year off your professional career.
So you have to leave, even if that means that you might end up in Cleveland. What are you going to do? Stay in school another year and hope that Cleveland isn’t picking at the top of the draft next year? Spoiler alert: they will be. They had the number one pick last year, they’ve got the number one pick this year, and barring the most incredible miracle in the history of the NFL, they’ll probably be at or near the top again next year.
I mean, how crazy is it that there’s even a thought that someone might not enter the NFL draft because they’d be concerned that they might be drafted by Cleveland? Think about that for a second. There was, for a moment, a consideration that maybe one, or both, quarterbacks might stay in school, play for free, and accept all the risk that comes with that, because it seemed like a better option than being paid crazy jack to play in Cleveland. There isn’t a more damning statement about the Browns than that. Next you’ll be hearing that one or both guys intentionally tanked their workouts with the Browns so that Cleveland wouldn’t take them.
But both of them are willing to roll the dice on the Browns so now the question immediately becomes, who does Cleveland take? Rosen threw for 3,756 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He throws a really nice deep ball and seems like the more natural, prototypical NFL quarterback, but some teams would be scared by his strong personality. Rosen isn’t the kind of guy to spit clichés about winning the day or taking things one practice at a time. He’s got opinions, he’s got thoughts, and he’s going to share them. And I love that about him. But some teams won’t.
Darnold, on the other hand, isn’t going to cause a ton of controversy, but he’s not as polished on the field as Rosen and some evaluators have concerns about his decision-making. He threw for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns, 13 interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns, but lost seven fumbles, which is a little concerning. And sure his stock was hire last season after that ridiculous Rose Bowl game. But this dude still has crazy IT, can do things that Rosen will never be able to do athletically, and at 6-4, 220 , he absolutely looks the part. There is no sure thing, especially when it comes to drafting a q.b, but I love Darnold. Love the guy. Even if developed a proclivity for putting it on the ground and throwing it the other guy this season.
The reason these two are so compelling is because it’s so close between them. And since it’s close, we’re going to have nearly four months to debate this. Do you take the guy with the pure natural ability and the personality or do you go with someone who might have some mechanical issues now, but could potentially have a higher ceiling later?
Because we live in a fast-paced world and want answers now, I’ll fast-forward to April 26th and give you the answer to the question of who Cleveland will take first. On that night, Roger Goodell will walk to the podium in Arlington, Texas and announce that with the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select….
The Wrong Guy.
Because if history has taught us anything, that’s what Cleveland will do. Because that’s what they’ve done for years. If they take Rosen, he’ll struggle. If they take Darnold, he’ll struggle. That doesn’t mean that either guy is the wrong guy. It means that for years, Cleveland has been the wrong place. It’s been the place that turns right guys into wrong guys.
But if you’re Rosen or Darnold, you still have to enter the draft right now, even if being drafted by Cleveland ruins your career.