This will be the first of a series of articles examining each position group for the 2021 Cleveland Browns. First up, quarterback.
Baker Mayfield. Drafted number one overall in 2018, Mayfield in his first three years in the league has thrown for 11,115 yards, 75 touchdowns, 43 interceptions for a QB rating of 89.1. The only other NFL QB to throw for at least 11,000 yards, 75 TDs and a QB rating above 88.0 in their first three years was Dan Marino. Pro Football Focus has Mayfield rated as the ninth-best quarterback in the NFL. In 2020, he passed for 3563 yards, 26 TDs and 8 Int for a QB rating of 95.9, his best season. His QB rating per month in 2020 was September 91.5, October 96.8, November 87.8 and December 102.1. In games where the margin of victory was seven points or less, Mayfield had 16 TDs, 3 Int. and a QB rating of 103. In the last two minutes of a half, he had 7 TDs, 0 Int. for a QB rating of 110.4. Mayfield was at his best when the Browns were in the redzone, 21 TDs, 0 Int. for a QB rating of 111.2.
Case Keenum. Signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012, his best season came in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. Keenum passed for 3547 yards, 22 TDs, 7 Int. for a QB rating of 98.3. After replacing injured starting quarterback Sam Bradford in week two, Keenum led the Vikings to a 13-3 record and an incredible playoff win against the favored New Orleans Saints in the divisional game. With 10 seconds left in the game, Keenum hit WR Stephon Diggs for the game-winning 61-yard touchdown pass. The win put the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game vs. the eventual Super Bowl Champion Eagles. CBSsports.com has Keenum ranked as the fifth-best backup QB in the NFL.
Nick Mullens. Signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2017, he was waived as part of the final training camp cuts and signed to the practice squad. In 2018 he was again waived and signed to the 49ers practice squad. On September 26, 2018, he was activated from the practice squad due to a season-ending injury to starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo. On November 1, 2018, Mullens was named the starter versus the Raiders after QB C.J. Beathard injured his wrist during the previous game. Mullens finished 16 of 22 for 262 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Int., with a QB rating of 151.9. He became the first 49er QB to throw three touchdown passes in his debut in team history. Mullens finished the 2018 season with 2277 yards, 13 TD’s and 10 Int. in eight games.
This is a very solid position group for the Browns. Mayfield has improved each year he’s been in the NFL and with a second year in Kevin Stefanski’s offense is looking to have a breakout season, Keenum has starting experience and knows the offensive scheme from his time with the Vikings when his QB coach was Kevin Stefanski. Mullens also has starting experience and was coached by Kyle Shanahan who runs a motion offense similar to the Browns. If Mayfield had to miss a game or two, I feel confident in both backups.