NBA star and Akron native LeBron James cannot believe the Cleveland Browns passed on Josh Allen in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Browns had a chance to change the course of history, and draft not one, but two franchise cornerstones in 2018. Cleveland had two selections in the top-4, but somehow didn’t take the right quarterback.
At No. 1 overall, the Browns selected Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma. Mayfield led the Browns to the postseason a few years later, but is no longer in Cleveland after the arrival of Deshaun Watson.
At No. 4 overall, Cleveland took Denzel Ward, a capable cornerback, but not a player with the same level of impact as Allen has at the QB position.
The Bills selected Allen at No. 7, just three picks after Cleveland took Ward. Is it fair to say the Browns front office made a mistake?
LeBron James can’t believe the Browns passed on Josh Allen
When an NBA analyst made the point that Cleveland could have selected Allen on not one, but two occasions, LeBron was up in arms.
It’s fair to get upset, but let’s not play revisionist history.
At the time, Allen was embroiled in a pre-draft controversy about since-deleted offensive tweets.
While Mayfield had a police record, he had since explained his public intoxication and received a Heisman Trophy several years later. It was old news.
Ward, meanwhile, was squeaky clean at the time.
Allen was from an unproven non-Power 5 school in Wyoming, and struggled against better competition. It’s fair to wonder if he’d be the same player had he been selected by the Browns, or if he’d be of a similar mold to Mayfield — good but not great.
The best quarterbacks don’t just have great talent. They’re often drafted into stable situations, and good organizations. While the Bills didn’t necessarily qualify as the latter at the time, Allen did have a solid head coach in Sean McDermott, and an offensive coordinator devoted to developing him in Brian Daboll. Both succeeded at their job.
Cleveland wouldn’t have been as lucky with (gulps) Hue Jackson at the helm.