In recent memory, there has not been a prospect who did more for his draft stock during their senior college football season than Baker Mayfield. Entering the 2017 season, the raw talent of Mayfield was never a question. However, he had a few flaws that would have led him to be a middle round prospect and more of a project quarterback.
During the 2017 college football season, Baker Mayfield completely broke out of his shell, leading the Oklahoma Sooners to a 12-1 record. Mayfield was able to finish the season in first place in the Big 12. Including an impressive win over Ohio State, the Sooners enjoyed a birth in the coveted College Football Playoff. While the Sooners were not shorthanded with talent on both sides of the ball, the quarterback, Mayfield, had a lot to do with the team’s success. Mayfield would move on to win the Heisman trophy.
From a statistical standpoint, it is rather difficult to argue against Mayfield as the top quarterback in this draft class. He led FBS in yards per attempt (11.5), completion percentage (70.5%) and touchdown rate (10.64%). While statistics do not always tell the full story, there’s still flaws with Mayfield as the top QB prospect. Let’s peek into a few flaws.
Johnny Football Comparison
The biggest knock on Baker Mayfield is the ringing comparison to Johnny Manziel. At this year’s Senior Day, Mayfield measured 6-feet, 3/8″ after being listed as 6’1″ his entire college career. Naturally, the traditional AFC North quarterback is bigger than Mayfield. Flashing a few years back, Manziel’s alleged struggle was seeing overtop of the offensive line, to which Mayfield said,“I’ve never really been able to see over the guys,” Mayfield says. “I just trust where they’re at and what I see in the defense. Nobody sees over the 6’ 8” left tackle.” Furthermore, he went onto defend himself saying that even Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen can’t see over “that guy” either.
He makes a very valid point and his play backs it up. Size has never been a problem for Mayfield. He has proven he’s been able to make throws from standing inside the pocket. His ball placement is arguably the top of this draft class, proving that his size does not pose too much of an issue for him. Two successful quarterbacks of Mayfield’s height are Russell Wilson (5’11”) and Drew Brees (6’0″). Height should not be the issue when considering Mayfield.
Mayfield is also the most mobile quarterback in this class, furthering the Manziel comparison. While at times his elusiveness has been comparable to Russell Wilson, Mayfield oftentimes runs himself into trouble. When he leaves the pocket, all eyes are on him and the defense knows he is going to be on the move. This became a detrimental narrative of the playoff game against Georgia.
However, the positive outweighs the negative with Mayfield on the run. He uses his shifty mobility and stature to escape defenders and find holes in the defense that were not there naturally. He displayed this shiftiness multiple times during Oklahoma’s win at Ohio State.
Big 12 Competition and Scheme
While there a few exceptions, the Big 12 has never really had the reputation of producing extraordinary talent at the quarterback position. Part of this is because the competition in the Big 12 is generally not too good. They are known for prolific offenses with wide open spread systems. However, some of the system relies on the quarterback. Mayfield’s average pass zipped just over 11 yards past the line of scrimmage. While it is unlikely Mayfield would continue to throw the deep ball with that kind of consistency, he has an ability to throw the ball down the field that is going to translate at the professional level.
Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct
Cue more Johnny Manziel comparisons. Honestly, the misdemeanors that Mayfield plead guilty to should not be of any great concern. Mayfield was 21 years old. Everyone makes mistakes in college.
Fit in Cleveland
Ultimately, it is up to the minds in Berea to determine if Baker Mayfield’s future will involve him suiting up in brown and orange. Many draft analysts speculate that Mayfield will be off the boards within the first 10 picks. For the Browns, the smartest move might be to take Mayfield with the fourth pick conceding that they can land a veteran quarterback in free agency. Mayfield would definitely add competition to the QB room in Berea.
The truest difference between Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield is that Mayfield is a competitor. Manziel never needed football as his parents and grandparents were already wealthy. Mayfield has a competitive spirit that is unmeasurable. He walked-on to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, then transferred to Oklahoma where he walked-on again. It is evident that, unlike Manziel, Baker loves football and his passion will drive him away from trouble. The Johnny Manziel comparison should be dropped altogether.
While first and fourth overall might seem a little too early to bring Baker Mayfield to the Cleveland Browns, he would also bring his competitive spirit and winning attitude to an organization and fanbase in need of revival.
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