Early on in draft season, the general belief was that the Cleveland Browns would all but certainly take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Then, after Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley went bananas at the scouting combine, the notion of Barkley going first overall picked up steam.
Now, however, a third potential strategy is being advocated by some – the idea of the Browns taking a defensive end with the first pick for a second straight year.
That defensive end is Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State, who Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports slotted to Cleveland in his most recent mock draft. “The Browns still need a quarterback even though they traded for Tyrod Taylor,” he said, “but they’re don’t go quarterback at No. 1 because they know a top quarterback will be available at No. 4. This all comes down to how Dorsey views the quarterback class. If the Browns pass on a quarterback with the first pick, it means he thinks all of the top quarterbacks are similar in caliber and he’d be happy with the vast majority of them as the long-term answer in Cleveland.”
Per ESPN’s Mike Wells, Mel Kiper’s sentient hairdo agrees that Chubb, who had 73 tackles, an eye-popping 25 tackles for loss and 10 sacks for the Wolfpack in 2017, is in the conversation at No. 1.
“You could make the argument [Chubb] is the best player in the draft,” Kiper said. “He’s not that far off from being the No. 1 guy in the draft. He had two great years back-to-back. He’s got a great attitude, great approach. He’s not the elite talent that [2017 No. 1 overall draft pick] Myles Garrett is, but he’s more consistent and more on a daily basis gave you everything he had against the run and the pass. He chased down plays. He’s not Myles Garrett, but he’s close enough to say, ‘Hey, he could be the No. 1 player on anybody’s board.'”
For his part, Chubb agrees – telling reporters at the combine (per Eric Allen of the New York Jets website) that he’s as good as any player in the Class of 2018.
“My confidence level is going to say I’m the best player. I put it on tape,” he said. “Four years just putting on tape, good film, I feel like I’m the best player. I’m not going to say anyone is better than me, but there are a lot of good players. Saquon Barkley has put up ridiculous numbers the past couple of days. Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and all of the quarterbacks you’re hearing about — great players. And I just feel like I’m there at the top.”
“High motor, high energy and passionate. Just a guy who’s going to get after the quarterback or whoever has the ball in their hands,” Chubb continued. “I’m running down the field 50 yards just to get that ball. I’m doing a lot of great things with pass rushing, a lot of great things stopping the run. I had a pretty good season I’d say. Just a guy who’s going to play with a relentless motor.”
The mutual admiration society continued with NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, who compared the 6’4″, 269-pound Chubb to two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long. “Chubb possesses high-end physical traits, years of production and the ability to play in a variety of positions in both odd and even fronts,” Zierlein wrote. “Chubb returned to school last year and turned areas of improvement into areas of strength. His motor and athletic ability cause him to jump off the tape snap after snap and his play attributes and production should translate quickly as a pro. Chubb should be an early pick, early starter and multi-time Pro Bowler.”
It would appear that we’ve established that Bradley Chubb can play.