CLEVELAND -- Former NFL quarterback David Carr believes the Cleveland Browns should avoid selecting a signal-caller with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and instead, go for the best available player.
To Carr, the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is the best player eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft, and is the one whose name should be on the card when the Browns turn it into NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on April 26.
“The conventional wisdom would say, ‘You have the first and fourth pick. Let’s trade back and find the quarterback that you guys really want,’ or ‘Let’s find a tackle because Joe Thomas can’t play forever. Then, we’ll get a quarterback,’” Carr said on NFL Network’s Total Access Tuesday.
“Don’t do that. Take Saquon Barkley at No. 1, and then, take whatever quarterback you want later.”
The 5-foot-11, 229-pound Barkley declared for the NFL Draft after a standout junior season with Penn State.
On 217 carries, Barkley ran for 1,271 yards and matched a career best with 18 rushing scores. Additionally, Barkley turned 54 catches out of the backfield into 632 yards and three touchdowns, and despite being an impact player on offense, he was utilized on special teams, too.
Barkley returned 15 kickoffs for 426 yards and two touchdowns, including a 98-yard score against the Ohio State Buckeyes in mid-October.
“Barkley is a game-changer,” Carr said. “I don’t care who’s blocking for you. He finds a way. He’s the guy, like Ezekiel Elliott, where you basically have to find a way to get him the football 25 to 30 times a game and he can change the culture that you have going on, and then, you take a Josh Allen, who’s probably going to be there because there’s four guys.”
In addition to expressing his belief in Barkley’s talents, Carr trumpeted the virtues of UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
Despite taking 26 sacks and missing time because of injuries, including a concussion at the end of the regular season, Rosen set career highs with 3,756 passing yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for two scores in 2017.
In three years at UCLA, Rosen threw for 9,341 yards with 59 touchdowns against 26 interceptions.
Should the Browns go with Rosen and elect to start him right away, they would be putting in a rookie to replace their former first-year quarterback, DeShone Kizer.
In his first 15 NFL starts, Kizer completed 255 of 476 attempts (53.6 percent) for 2,894 yards with 11 touchdowns against a league-worst 22 interceptions. Despite taking 38 sacks for 226 lost yards and posting a 60.5 quarterback rating, Kizer rushed for 419 yards, 28 first downs and five touchdowns.
“For me, Josh Rosen is a guy that could come in instantly and play right away,” Carr said.
“There was talk about DeShone Kizer not quite being ready mentally. Josh Rosen is ready to go mentally. He’s ready to go in there and play right away, and you can still let Kizer get out there and get some reps and get some experience, but Josh Rosen can come in there Week 1 and start with Saquon and you should be fine.”