It’s generally considered bad praxis for both prospective draftees and impending free agents to badmouth any team. Generally, it’s not a good look that could rub other teams the wrong way, but there’s also always a chance that you could end up with that team.
Yet the Cleveland Browns of late have been so bad that more than a couple of players have bucked that trend. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who has a very real chance of being drafted by the Browns, is not one of them, however.
He had his day at the Combine last week, during which he confirmed everything that scouts have believed about his athletic ability, but he was also impressive at the podium and in interviews, according to reports.
And Cleveland probably needs a player who embraces the opportunity to resurrect a rotten franchise. Barkley is at least willing to pay lip service to that idea. After all, there’s not much he can do if the Browns actually draft him other than to try to be as great as he possibly can.
When he was asked about the opportunity to go to the Browns and help rebuild the team, he called it an “awesome” opportunity, saying “that’s something bigger than you”. The AFC North basement-dwellers have won just one game in the past two years.
“You got a team like that, obviously they’ve had some rough years, but I think they’re a couple of pieces away. They have a lot of young talent, a new offensive coordinator”, he said, indicating that he is informed about the current state of teams. “You want to be a part of something like that. It’s something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s something where you can leave a legacy and be a part of something special”.
It would take a lot of work to build a legacy in a team that is regularly looked past, however. The Browns have not gone to the postseason since 2001, when Barkley was four years old. They have not had a winning season since 2007. They have only won more than six games in a season four times since they returned to the league in 1999. Still, he is on board for any team to draft him.
“Any team that wants to draft me and bless me with the opportunity to play for their franchise is a blessing”, Barkley said. “You grow up as a little kid dreaming of playing in the NFL. If it’s the Browns, if it’s the Giants or whoever, I’m going to come in with my head low and be ready to work”.
The New York Giants are a very real possibility. If the Browns use the first-overall pick on a quarterback, then New York may very well take the running back with the second-overall pick. But the Giants will soon need a quarterback as well, and could draft one with their selection.