Gauging NFL draft's top six picks: Barkley, Mayfield trending up

As we get closer to the first round of the NFL draft Thursday in Arlington, Texas, every football fan wants to know who their team will draft, especially the teams at the top of the first round.

Quarterbacks Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield continue to dominate the conversation. But look for running back Saquon Barkley and pass-rusher Bradley Chubb to go early too.

Here’s a closer look at the scenarios for the teams that hold the Nos. 1-6 picks:

1. Cleveland Browns

No change here. The choice still will be the quarterback who is the best fit for the long term. The leading candidates remain USC's Darnold and Wyoming’s Allen. There has been a fair amount of buzz lately that the Browns are leaning toward Allen, but coach Hue Jackson scoffed at that claim, saying the Browns had yet to decide their pick and would not decide until they had more intense organizational discussions through the week. The Browns will pick a quarterback first, and it figures to be Darnold or Allen, with Mayfield a distant third. -- Pat McManamon

2. New York Giants

All signs are trending toward Barkley being the No. 2 pick for the Giants. "He’s one of those guys my mother could have scouted,” general manager Dave Gettleman said at his pre-draft news conference. "She could’ve figured that one out." Gettleman also called the idea that the Giants needed to draft a quarterback so they’re not in this spot again in a few years “hogwash.” This is the sound of an organization that seems ready to bypass drafting a potential franchise quarterback even though Eli Manning will be 38 before the end of the upcoming season. Of course, it could all change if the Browns pass on Darnold. Still, at this point, Barkley or a trade back seem to be the Giants' most likely options. -- Jordan Raanan

3. New York Jets

If Darnold is off the board, as many expect, the Jets’ quarterback decision probably will come down to Mayfield or Rosen. Both players have support within the organization, but the sense is that Mayfield has the edge. Why Mayfield? The Jets like his pinpoint accuracy, competitiveness and winning pedigree. They regard Rosen as a terrific pocket passer, but there are concerns about his durability. It doesn’t help that he’s the most immobile of the top quarterback prospects. Allen appears to be fourth in the Jets’ pecking order. If Darnold slips to No. 3, it probably changes everything. There’s an outside chance the Jets could trade up one spot for Darnold. -- Rich Cimini

4. Cleveland Browns

What the Giants do will determine how the Browns go here. If the Giants take a quarterback at No. 2 or trade out of the pick so another team can get a quarterback, the Browns will take the best player available, and it will be either Barkley or Chubb. The team has not telegraphed its intentions between those players. If the Giants take Barkley, the Browns will go with Chubb. If the Giants take Chubb, the Browns will take Barkley. Either one is an excellent choice. This draft is set up so well for the Browns, it’s hard to see them making a mess of it. -- Pat McManamon

5. Denver Broncos

In his final public comments before the Broncos actually make a pick in this year’s draft, president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Thursday that he still would consider using the No. 5 pick on a quarterback if it were the one he liked the most. “That’s my job; ultimately [the decision] is going to be mine." But Elway said he also would consider a move up or down in the first round if a trade proposal suited him and he could still get the player the Broncos desire. If the quarterbacks go early, the Broncos could stay at No. 5 and focus on Chubb, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. All three would project to start as rookies. -- Jeff Legwold

6. Indianapolis Colts

Anything is in play with the Colts at No. 6. They’ll be closely watching to see how the dominoes fall with the quarterbacks with the five teams picking in front of them. The Colts will be in a position to have good options to choose from with their pick if two or more quarterbacks are taken before them. The possibility of the Colts trading back with a team looking for help at quarterback will increase if two or more of the projected top quarterbacks are still on the board when they go on the clock. Moving back -- again -- will give Indianapolis more picks to add to the nine it currently has in this year’s draft. Ward and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith are players to keep an eye on if Barkley, Chubb and Nelson are off the board and the Colts decide to stay at No. 6. -- Mike Wells