It makes sense and it’s logical, and if forced to predict today what would happen, this is the likely scenario.
The debate that will rage until draft night isn’t whether the Browns will take a quarterback first; they will. The debate is which one.
Mel Kiper Jr. had the Browns taking Josh Allen of Wyoming. McShay gives them Darnold. Given his desire not to be in Cleveland, Josh Rosen (UCLA) is generally projected to the New York Giants with the second pick. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) is also in the discussion.
But the Browns prefer big quarterbacks, and while Mayfield is a different player than Johnny Manziel, his on-field swagger and off-field issues can’t be ignored. Having gone through Manziel, it’s tough to see the Browns willingly seeking such potential drama again.
The debate between Allen and Darnold could come down to long-term potential. Darnold is considered the surer thing, but Allen may have the greater potential if he can improve some of his accuracy issues.
The risk is that he doesn’t improve and that Darnold simply becomes the quarterback everyone expects. Darnold minimizes the risk while maximizing the ability among available quarterbacks. As McShay said on TV, he “trusts [Darnold] the most.”
At this point, it would make sense he’d be the Browns choice.
There's general consensus for the fourth pick: McShay and Kiper both have the Browns taking Barkley, whom some draft analysts (including McShay) rank as the best player in the draft.
He can run, he can catch, he’s shown high character in his college career. He’d be a perfect fit with Duke Johnson Jr. in an offense that likes to utilize backs and in an offense that will need a back with Isaiah Crowell heading for free agency.
The risk in this scenario is that a team that desperately wants a back would trade ahead of the Browns to get him. But in this era that scenario does not seem likely. The best fit for the Indianapolis Colts, who have the third overall pick, seems to be defensive end Bradley Chubb, which would leave Barkley for the Browns.
The other player who will be considered at the fourth spot is Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
However, one other domino that could fall would prompt another discussion: If Joe Thomas decides to retire, left tackle suddenly jumps out as a significant need. Spencer Drango replaced Thomas last season and played better than expected, but if the Browns could take another Thomas-like left tackle anchor fourth overall, they might not be able to pass up the chance.
The question is whether there is a tackle worth being picked fourth overall.
McShay’s highest-drafted tackles are Connor Williams of Texas and Orlando Brown of Oklahoma. Brown is the son of the former Browns and Ravens tackle of the same name. McShay has them both going in the middle of the first round.