The winless Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers are the front-runners at midseason for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, and the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants aren't far behind.
The Browns have a strong need for a quarterback, and the 49ers have flexibility after trading a second-round pick to the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo. The Colts, meanwhile, already have their quarterback in Andrew Luck but could be positioned to take a top defensive player or an explosive player on offense, such as Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants still have Eli Manning under contract but could consider a quarterback to groom under the two-time Super Bowl champion.
Here's a closer look at the four teams contending for the No. 1 overall pick and the direction each could go with the selection:
Target if Browns keep No. 1 pick: DeShone Kizer has some work to do to convince the Browns not to take a quarterback with the first overall pick, which the Browns seem destined to have for the second consecutive year. The player they take should be the consensus best quarterback, be it Josh Rosen of UCLA or Sam Darnold of USC or another QB who emerges. If the Browns fiddle around with this pick and trade down or take another position, fans should turn in every ticket and bit of gear they have and the league should step in and disband the front office, and the Browns should simply forfeit every game until they get a quarterback. The Browns have used 24 picks the past two seasons and only two on quarterbacks -- Kizer and Cody Kessler -- and none in the first round. They have five picks in the first two rounds in 2018. In theory -- and with the Browns everything is really just theory -- that massive number of picks used properly should provide the foundation for a roster. But until they get a quarterback, they will be just another team. In the upcoming draft, the team that passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson absolutely has to take a quarterback.
Target if Browns trade down: The mere thought of a trade down by the Browns is like 100 sets of fingernails scratching down a chalkboard. The Browns traded out of the picks that turned out to be Wentz (Philadelphia) and Watson (Houston) the past two years. If they even entertain the thought again, they'd need to have someone check their water because something would be wrong. Trading down would be the definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -- Pat McManamon
San Francisco 49ers
Target if 49ers keep No. 1 pick: After Monday's franchise-altering trade for Garoppolo, the Niners now have a world of possibilities in front of them for the 2018 NFL draft, particularly if they land the first pick. In a perfect world, they could auction the top spot for a bounty of draft picks capable of filling some of their other many holes. Short of that, the 49ers would be in a prime position to add the type of difference-maker they so desperately need. That would be Barkley. It's hard to envision Niners coach Kyle Shanahan using a top pick on a running back but Barkley looks like the type of generational talent who could change any team's mind and immediately become Garoppolo's best friend. If this scenario happened, the Niners' desperate need for a game-breaker on offense probably would win out, even above positional needs like edge rusher, cornerback and wide receiver.
Target if 49ers trade down: If Barkley is off the board after a trade down, the Niners probably would be in the market for an impact edge rusher or a top cornerback. The way-too-early read on the draft is that there are some talented edge rushers but no surefire studs. That could leave the Niners staring at Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, given the 49ers' need at corner and the likelihood he'll be rated one of the top players in the draft regardless of position. Fitzpatrick can also play safety, and though the Niners' more pressing need is at corner, a player of his caliber could allow them to bump Jimmie Ward back to corner if they feel Fitzpatrick is better suited to free safety. At either spot, Fitzpatrick has the ability to solidify a secondary in need of help. -- Nick Wagoner
New York Giants
Target if Giants keep No. 1 pick: The Giants are going to be one of these teams hoping Darnold comes out in the draft. He's generally considered the best quarterback in college football. This isn't the ninth or 10th pick that the Giants had in 2016 and '15, respectively. This is the No. 1 selection, a rare opportunity to grab a franchise quarterback with Manning close to the end. He'll be 37 years old and will have missed the playoffs in five of the past six years. Davis Webb, this year's third-round pick, will be an unknown. The Giants can't pass on an opportunity to grab a potential franchise-changing quarterback in Darnold. If they end up with two (Darnold and Webb), that is the kind of a problem any team would like.
Target if Giants trade down: If Darnold doesn't enter the draft or the Giants don't see a true franchise quarterback among the bunch, they can slide down a few spots and excitedly select Barkley. Running backs just don't go No. 1 overall these days, even if he's the best player in the draft. Barkley would be a game-changer for the Giants alongside Odell Beckham Jr. They finally would have some balance in their offense. Barkley is the best, most well-rounded running back to enter the draft in years. He has great vision, speed, balance and pass-catching ability. He's even a weapon returning kicks. It's not settling if they end up with Barkley, either. -- Jordan Raanan
Target if Colts keep No. 1 pick: The Colts need a running back to ease the workload of quarterback Andrew Luck. But using the No. 1 overall pick on a running back could be looked at as a risk, no matter how good Barkley is. A running back hasn't been taken No. 1 overall since Ki-Jana Carter, also from Penn State, was selected by Cincinnati in 1995. The other pressing need is a pass-rusher, a position the Colts have been trying to fill since Robert Mathis started slowing down after the 2013 season, to go with their young secondary. North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb fits that mold. Chubb has 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in only seven games this season.
Target if Colts trade down: This would be more of an ideal scenario for the Colts because of the number of potential quarterbacks that could be taken No. 1 overall. The Colts, barring anything happening with Luck and his shoulder, don't need to address the quarterback position. Trading back would allow general manager Chris Ballard to stockpile more picks to try to accelerate rebuilding the roster. The Colts could be in a position to get more picks and also be able to address their pass-rush problems because Chubb could still be on the board depending on how far back they trade. If Indianapolis goes for an offensive player, Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey is one on whom to keep an eye. McGlinchey has played right and left tackle in college. Those are both positions of need for the Colts' dreadful offensive line. -- Mike Wells