Saquon Sadness: A Steelers Fan’s Pre-Draft Woes
Being a Penn Stater and a Yinzer aren’t all that different. Loyalty runs deep for fans of the blue and white and of the black and gold. Hailing from the Steel City and being a Nittany Lion are both equally a part of my genetic makeup. My blood runs thick with Heinz ketchup, and my heart belongs in Beaver Stadium. For the first time, however, these loyalties are bringing me to a crossroads.
Cue Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
As the NFL draft inches closer, it becomes a bit more likely that the Cleveland Browns might make Saquon Barkley the number one pick. As a Penn Stater, I can’t help but feel happy for Saquon as he fulfills his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. I am stoked to see his life change completely, as he can finally enjoy the fruits of his labor. And I certainly can’t wait to watch him hurdle NFL defenders.
But as a Yinzer, it is all too bittersweet. I want nothing but the best for Saquon Barkley, which is why it pains me that he will likely end up playing for the Steelers’ AFC North foe and the laughing stock of the NFL. The organization boasts a grand total of two winning seasons and 28 different starting quarterbacks since 1999. Oh, and the Browns failed to win a game last season. They have been more dumpster fire than football team.
However, I have to give credit to the Browns’ new front office. Recently, they have made some fairly good offseason moves, revamping the offense with a competent dual-threat quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and a superstar wide receiver in Jarvis Landry. The wide receiver duo of Landry and freak of nature Josh Gordon is enough to keep every secondary in the league up at night. Add Saquon Barkley’s playmaking ability to that mix? I’m getting cold sweats just thinking about it.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because there’s still a chance that the Browns could Brown this one up (yes, the Browns are so bad that their name can be used as a verb). Yesterday, they signed 49ers’ running back Carlos Hyde, seemingly to mentor Barkley and prevent crushing him with the weight of the whole team on his back. Though, I’m still holding onto hope that they’ll take their quarterback of the future or defensive end Bradley Chubb with the first pick, leaving Saquon for literally anyone else before the Browns’ fourth pick in the draft — I seriously doubt that he will last that long. Not after he turned heads at the combine.
If/when he does end up in Cleveland, at least there’s some sort of silver lining in getting to watch Saquon Barkley at least twice a year. Part of me will still be rooting for him, even as I watch him run through the Ryan Shazier-sized hole in the Steelers’ defense — the same one Leonard Fournette found for 109 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s AFC divisional round. Unfortunately for us, Saquon has the potential to be a much better back than Fournette.
Yet even with Saquon Barkley and the handful of moves the Browns made in free agency, there’s no guarantee that they will actually be good enough to tally a winning record next year. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and turning the Cleveland Browns franchise around is arguably a more impressive feat for humanity.
Perhaps the fact the Browns will be better but still not necessarily good is the most frightening thing for Steelers fans like myself. Especially considering how much the Steelers seem to play down to competition. The Browns have been the sole exception over the years, as Ben Roethlisberger is 22-2 in his career against the Browns. However, that all stands to change with this new-look offense in Cleveland plus Barkley.
Of course, nothing is set in stone until April 26, and only God knows what the Browns will end up doing with the number one pick. Until then, I’ll keep praying like Pittsburgh Dad that I won’t have the Sunday scaries every time I see No. 26 in orange and brown (yuck).