The San Francisco 49ers are currently 0-7, tied with the Cleveland Browns for the worst record in the NFL. Things don’t look like they will get better in the win column soon, as the 49ers face Carson Wentz and the Eagles in Philadelphia this Sunday.
The Eagles are coming off a brilliant win on Monday Night Football this past week, which improved them to an NFL-best 6-1 record.
So, with the 49ers continuing to struggle, speculation naturally turns to what the team will do with the high draft pick they will ultimately receive.
NFL Insider Adam Caplan joined Taylor Price on VSporto’s Taylor Price Talk, and discussed what the 49ers should do with their No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
Price brought up the possibility of the 49ers drafting Penn State star running back Saquon Barkley, and while Caplan agreed that Barkley is a special talent, he doesn’t see the 49ers going that direction.
“Well, here’s the thing with Barkley. If any running back goes in the first round, it’ll be he,” Caplan said. “But the league does not look at running backs as first round picks these days. They just don’t. They don’t put a tremendous value on it, it’s just not a valued pick. Running backs are fairly disposable. You generally can find them later. Now, you’re not going to find a Barkley later in the draft, most likely. But he’s a tremendous talent. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. You talk to the general managers, and offensive coordinators and head coaches in recent years, they seem to be in agreement: The guy’s got to be super special and has to be a foundation back, or you just don’t take him in the first round.”
Barkley does seem to fit the definition of a “foundation back.” Even so, Caplan contends that a team would be better off selecting a franchise QB with their pick.
“[NFLGMs] just don’t want a running back in the first round, because you’ve gotta have a quarterback–as you know, the Niners know that, the Browns know that,” Caplan said. “If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t win. There’s just–simple as that. And that’s what the Browns mistake, with passing on Carson Wentz. I mean, they’re learning that the hard way. When you talk about tanking, I mean, [the Browns] have clearly tried to do that…The Niners are trying to build the right way. They’re just building from the ground up. The Browns purposely have tried to turn this thing around by losing. I mean, they’ll deny that all they want, but facts are facts. I mean, no one…everyone who knows what’s going on there knows what they’ve been doing.”
Caplan expanded on his thoughts and explained that if a team has a chance of drafting a franchise talent at the quarterback position, it’s an essential opportunity that cannot be wasted.
“And I like the approach of getting draft picks,” Caplan said. “But the problem is, when you pass on a franchise quarterback, and I’ve made this clear on Twitter, and now I can explain it a little better, Taylor. When you have a chance to select a transformative quarterback, and when you have the right information, more often than not, you’re going to get it right. Listen, no one gives the answers to the test before you make the decision, but the Eagles had better intel than they (the Browns) did.”
Cleveland traded their No. 2 overall pick to Philadelphia in 2016, which took Wentz.
Several marquee quarterbacks are indeed projected to declare for the 2018 draft, including UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Washington State’s Luke Falk, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, and NC State’s Ryan Finley. However, with reports surfacing that Sam Darnold will likely not declare for the 2018 draft and the questionable play of some of these aforementioned quarterbacks, it remains to be seen whether the 49ers and other NFL teams will determine that they are franchise QBs. If they are not regarded as such, that could open the door to San Francisco taking Barkley.
To listen to the interview, click the podcast link below. To hear Caplan’s comments on Barkley, skip to the 0:27 mark.