Evaluating Baker Mayfield’s First Preseason
Baker Mayfield’s rookie preseason came to an end on Thursday night and his performance left Browns fans begging for more. We may not see Baker for a while considering Tyrod Taylor is the starter, which is agonizing because Baker showed that he is ready to play right away. His movement in the pocket and incredible accuracy while throwing on the run made for some highlight plays, but it wasn’t all flash and no substance. Baker ended the preseason with the highest Pro Football Focus grade amongst rookie QB’s, following the same trend from college. Not only did he have the highest PFF grade amongst rookie QB’s, but he had the sixth-highest grade amongst all QB’s in this year’s preseason.
Baker finished the preseason going 35/61 on his passes, which isn’t great – only 57%. However, it was the type of throws that Baker was making that made him so impressive in this preseason. Unlike QBs Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen he didn’t “dink and dunk” from the pocket taking easy completions. He went through all of his reads and constantly kept his eyes downfield looking for the big play, not just an easy completion. He finished the preseason averaging 9.1 yards per attempt from a clean pocket. In comparison, other rookie QB’s Lamar Jackson (6.3) and Sam Darnold (5.7) were second and third amongst first round QBs in yards per attempt. These deep shots down the field led to 501 yards and two touchdown passes. Baker showed he is ready to test NFL defenses deep down the field more than any QB in this class. This makes you wonder why people were so worried about Baker’s size being a problem.
First play of the Great Lakes Classic: Baker Mayfield to Devon Cajuste for 41 yards! pic.twitter.com/lo88T6nyWl
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 30, 2018
Mayfield showed every bit of what made him the number one overall pick and the only question now is, when do we see him in the regular season? Tyrod Taylor is the team’s unquestioned starter and he has done nothing to lose the job throughout training camp. However, how long can you keep a force like Baker Mayfield on the bench? Will Tyrod’s conservative style anger Browns fans who are eager for an explosive offense? Will Hue Jackson feel the pressure to play Mayfield if the offense struggles? Can Tyrod win enough games to fend off Mayfield? Well, I guess that’s why we watch.