Who Should The Browns Take Fourth Overall?

Who Should The Browns Take Fourth Overall?

Saquon Barkley or Minkah Fitzpatrick?
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At this point in the year, most football minds have their attention focused on free agency and the draft. As crazy and incredible as free agency can be, my real interest lies on the college players who will find themselves getting paid millions of dollars this April. More specifically, which of those college athletes will be on the Browns.

With the first and fourth picks in the NFL draft, there is no shortage of possibilities for the Browns. Assuming the Browns get one of the many quarterbacks who will be available come free agency, it's my opinion that they should still use their first pick on a quarterback. A quarterback at number one is almost a foregone conclusion by now. The fourth pick, on the other hand, is still very much a mystery.

Even though you'll have the odd analyst every once in a while who will mock a QB at 4 or even Bradley Chubb, for the most part, it's believed that the Browns will select either Saquon Barkley or Minkah Fitzpatrick. With Jabrill Peppers playing out of position for much of last season and the perception that Isaiah Crowell will not return to the Browns, free safety and running back with certainly be positions of need for the Browns.

Despite that, each player and position come with their own drawbacks. For starters, neither position is typically considered valuable enough to be taken so early in the draft. The average NFL running back has a rather brief shelf life, and their usage can vary considerably depending on the offense and skillset of the back. With free safety, even the best at the position ultimately won't make a huge impact in each game, thus decreasing the overall value at the position. So that leaves the question of who should the Browns select.

Fitzpatrick is an Alabama FS/CB prospect with pro comparisons to Seattle's Earl Thomas. Minkah has done it all for Bama. Originally playing corner, he made the move to free safety after Eddie Jackson broke his leg two seasons ago.

After investing a first-round pick in a strong safety last season and then proceeding to play him almost exclusively at free safety, drafting Minkah would be like completing the puzzle for the Browns defense. With Myles Garret and Ogbah healthy plus a healthy linebacking core with Peppers in the box and Minkah playing centerfield, that's a scary image for opposing quarterbacks, especially with potential changes coming to defensive pass interference rules.

Another possibility that comes with Minkah is his ability to play corner. Minkah could move back to corner for the Browns, which makes the cornerback room rather crowded. My suggestion would be for Jason McCourty to then transition to free safety, a move that is not unheard of. With McCourty aging, his experience and skill set might be more help at the safety spot. Minkah allows for plenty of versatility.

Saquon Barkley is hardly an unknown name. He has been a fun player to watch since his freshman season at Penn State and is often thought of as the most talented player in the entire draft. The issue some have with that claim is that a running back in today's NFL can be so easily found relative to other positions. It seems that nearly every good value running back is available in the later rounds because they are so moldable to a gameplan.

Another issue with Barkley at four is how deep this class of running backs is perceived to be. With the plethora of picks the Browns hold, would it make sense to use a high pick on a position that has similar value at a lesser cost? The answer to that question would ultimately lie on a scouts grade on Barkley and how the drafter values the position.

Historically, John Dorsey hasn't selected a running back so highly. Kareem Hunt was drafted in the third round just last season by Dorsey. Dorsey is no stranger to finding a playmaker in late rounds, and I doubt he would change his philosophy on the Browns when it has been so successful in the past for him. Barkley would have to have shown hall of fame potential for Dorsey to use that pick on him.

So who is the pick? Minkah choice makes plenty of sense to me. After investing so much into our defense, it almost seems silly to leave the final piece of the puzzle on the board. With Minkah, our defense can grow together under a few more seasons with Williams calling the shots. Along with a couple of scheme changes, we might even have a Jacksonville caliber defense in a season or two. That being said, the Browns offense was embarrassing last season.

Going under the assumption the Browns will have a shiny new quarterback next season, Saquon is the perfect complement to a young quarterback while also being able to take some pressure off Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum, should he wear the orange and brown in 2018. After seeing the effect a quality running back like Elliott, Gurley, and Fournette can have for an offense and a young quarterback, Barkley seems like the perfect answer.

Rosen/Darnold/Cousins/Mayfield throwing to Coleman, Gordon, Njoku, Johnson, and possibly another WR in the draft with Barkley churning out yards on the ground sounds like the offense Cleveland has been yearning for since their return to Cleveland. Free safety is likely a position that can be more easily handled in the coming years, should the need remain, while a true game altering running back is rather difficult to come by. If it were up to me, Saquon is the pick.

I hope that this article was interesting to those of you who made it this far. With the draft and combine coming up, this part of the year is my favorite aside from the actual season. It is my hope for these coming weeks to continue to give my insight on the future NFL players, along with those who will soon be available in free agency. With roughly a dozen picks and over 110 million dollars in cap room, the Browns with their revamped front office should make some team-altering decisions in the coming months that I am supremely excited to see. Forever the optimist, I know. Such is life as a Cleveland Browns fan.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To The Coach Who Inspired Me Forever

Anyone who's found a love for a sport (or sports) while playing for rec teams, club teams or teams for a local school, can agree.. that somewhere along the way, there was a coach that changed everything.

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When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first organized sport. It happened to be the Fall of the year I entered kindergarten and the sport happened to be soccer. Now, at this age calling it, an "organized" sport is quite a reach. We met once a week, put on our colored pennies and ran around in a big field while a volunteer coach really thought they'd have the chance to corral us. That year, I continued through the seasons and got my first glimpse at a number of other sports. Cheering, basketball, and t-ball were all on my to-do list, and soon I was hooked.

Every week I would look forward to games on the weekend and a practice or two along the week. By the third or fourth grade, I believed I had narrowed down the sports I really wanted to play: soccer, basketball, and baseball. I played all of these until the fifth grade when it was first suggested that I switch over to softball.

I absolutely hated the idea of this but, that spring it happened. I was the first one to be "drafted" onto a team, that come to find out, was the team that always finished last. Even knowing this, I continued to play and learn every position and somehow leading my team to its first championship in years.

This.

This was the moment I learned to love the sport I least expected to, and first met the coach who would change my view on the game. Although the story leading up to this point may not have been the same as yours, we all know the moment we realized, this coach was going to change us.

For me, this coach over my middle and high school careers became one of the most important people in my world now revolving around this sport. He fought for my spot on the middle school team when the coach claimed I was "too young" and wanted to give older girls a spot. He pulled me to the varsity lineup as a Freshman and trusted me to catch every-game behind the plate of the senior pitcher who clearly had the speed and talent to pitch collegiately. He continued to mentor me, step by step as my role on the team transitioned from freshman catcher, to second baseman, to senior captain pitcher.

This coach changed everything for me. He taught me respect and accountability and I'd get out what I put into not only the sport, but all my other endeavors. He taught me integrity, and perseverance. But he also taught me how to have fun while I played. How to step onto the field and play my hardest, but know no-matter the score as long as I did my best it was a good game.

I had never known what it was like to have someone other than my parents be so invested in my success before. Of course, they're going to be there for every game, every carpool to practice and every early Sunday morning tournament. But often times, the coach who leaves it all on the field goes unnoticed. The coach who will sit after a game and cry with you after you played your very last game... the coach that truly made you believe in yourself.

So here's to him. Here's to the blood, sweet and tears left behind. Here's to "the good, the bad and the ugly" as he'd say, and learning that any bruise can be fixed by rubbing a little dirt on it. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for shaping me in to the player I am today, and continuing to do so for others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to be the best I could be.

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