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NFL Draft odds: Contenders to be first overall pick

One of the most intriguing NFL Drafts takes place from April 26 to 28 and if you love taking a punt on prospects just as much as the teams, we have delved deep on all the players who could go first overall.

The Cleveland Browns own the top selection after a dismal 0-16 season in 2017 and they are yet to show their hand when it comes to who they will pick.

There are four quarterbacks that Cleveland could consider with their opening selection, but none of those are considered a lock, and the fact the Browns have the fourth-overall pick too only adds to the intrigue.

Here we assess some of the leading candidates to hear their name read first in Dallas and their NFL Draft odds:

Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold to be first overall pick

Position: Quarterback

College: USC

Odds: 3/4

Twelve months ago it looked like Darnold would definitely be the first overall pick and the most accomplished quarterback to emerge since Andrew Luck. Yet last year, when he had 13 interceptions and nine lost fumbles, hurt his value somewhat.

The team that drafts Darnold knows they will be getting a young, talented player with no off-field issues who is capable of reading defences and making brilliant throws. Yet will teams be spooked by his turnovers, clear mechanical deficiencies and a history of USC quarterbacks disappointing at the next level (see Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez)?

Josh Allen

Josh Allen to be first overall pick

Position: Quarterback

College: Wyoming

Odds: 6/4

Of all the leading signal callers in this draft, Allen is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect. He has prototypical size (6'5) and can make those 'wow' throws by slinging it down the field with ease.

The fear is that as a starter he never completed more than 56 per cent of his passes against weaker college opponents. There are those who believe Browns general manager John Dorsey, who traded up to land Patrick Mahomes for Kansas City last year, has already fallen in love with another big-armed quarterback and wants him at the top of the draft.

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley to be first overall pick

Position: Running back

College: Penn State

Odds: 5/2

Forget all the talk of the quarterbacks, running back Barkley is considered by many as the best player in this draft and a generational talent at running back. Barkley can do it all given he is quick, elusive, strong and an asset in the passing game.

His position has seen a renaissance in the NFL in recent years, with Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson showing how teams can revolve around star backs. The Browns already have a serviceable starting quarterback on their roster and can still pick up a project with their fourth pick if they are besotted with Barkley.

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield to be first overall pick

Position: Quarterback

College: Oklahoma

Odds: 8/1

Analytics website Pro Football Focus has ranked Mayfield as their top prospect and he was the recipient of the Heisman Award as college football's best player last season. Mayfield is a born winner, an intelligent, mobile quarterback and a big personality that is perfect or a disaster for big media markets like New York.

As with his peers, there are concerns about Mayfield. At 6'1", he is under-sized for his position and ran a spread offence that has a reputation for not translating to the NFL. There are also off-field issues. He has taunted opponents by grabbing his crotch, planted his college's flag on a rival team's turf and had a brush with the law. Teams have to weigh up whether Mayfield is worth the risk.

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen to be first overall pick

Position: Quarterback

College: UCLA

Odds: 11/1

There is barely any buzz about Rosen being drafted by the Browns at number one, despite the fact he might be the most pro-ready thrower in this class. At a stage when smokescreens hide teams' real intentions, do not sleep on Rosen.

He excelled as a pocket passer with tremendous footwork honed from playing tennis as a kid. The concern with Rosen, a curious and fascinating individual, is his mindset and whether he has the hunger to play in the NFL after his former head coach Jim Mora said: "He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn't get bored".

Bradley Chubb

Bradley Chubb to be first overall pick

Position: Defensive end

College: North Carolina State

Odds: 16/1

The best defensive player on the board excels at the most important job on that side of the field: rushing the quarterback. The Browns could pair Chubb with last year's first overall pick Myles Garrett and would instantly have arguably the most dominant pass-rushing duo in the NFL.

Denver's Von Miller and Oakland's Khalil Mack are perhaps the best edge rushers currently in the league and the former recently said Chubb was like the two players "put together". If that proves to be the case, Chubb will prove to be an astute pick for whoever takes him.

Quenton Nelson

Quenton Nelson to be first overall pick

Position: Offensive guard

College: Notre Dame

Odds: 20/1

Offensive lineman are not sexy picks but get it right with one of them and you can be set at the position for a decade. The Browns know that all too well after benefiting from 10-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas' 11 years with the team.

There is never truly a 'safe', can't-miss prospect in the draft but Nelson might represent the closest thing to it. NFL.com has him rated as the second best player on their board, behind only Barkley, and Nelson features at a position that tends to have a greater longevity.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick to be first overall pick

Position: Safety

College: Alabama

Odds: 22/1

Fitzpatrick possesses the one trait every defensive coordinator values: versatility. He is a natural leader, can be the heart of a defence and is capable of playing as a linebacker, blitzing or covering big wide receivers and tight ends. Moreover, he has graduated from the best team in the college game over the past few seasons and will therefore possess a high football IQ.

However, it was only last year when the Browns used a first-round pick on another hybrid defensive player in Jabrill Peppers. Cleveland could ultimately use both of their first two picks on the other side of the ball.

Denzel Ward

Denzel Ward to be first overall pick

Position: Cornerback

College: Ohio State

Odds: 28/1

In today's pass-heavy NFL, cornerbacks have great importance. Last year two Ohio State cornerbacks went in the first round - Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley - and Lattimore was named the defensive rookie of the year.

Ward is supremely gifted athletically and can play inside and outside. The Browns, 0-16 last year, can use help across the board and traded away their best cornerback Jason McCourty in the off-season. Even so, the chances of Ward going in the top five are slim.

Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith to be first overall pick

Position: Outside linebacker

College: Georgia

Odds: 33/1

A hugely productive player at the college level and the theory is he is still ascending. He was voted the best linebacker in college last year and helped Georgia reach the College Football Playoff National Championship so will bring a winning culture to whichever downtrodden team he joins.

The issue with Smith is his size, or lack of it, ahead of him joining a league full of behemoths that could prevent him from being anywhere near as effective. And while he may prove to be an excellent pro player at his position, it is extremely unlikely any of the top few picks are spent on a linebacker.

Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in NFL