As Cleveland Browns fans, we all love Baker Mayfield. But as objective observers of football, we cannot deny the potential of Kyler Murray.
So the question is: who will have the better NFL career?
Both Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield are former Oklahoma University quarterbacks built on the smaller side who won the Heisman Trophy and were drafted number one overall in the NFL Draft, being taken in back-to-back years. They were teammates in Norman, but now, in the National Football League, they have become opponents.
This season, the AFC North will play the NFC West, meaning that Mayfield’s Browns will take on Murray’s Cardinals. And while the outcome of that game won’t be a true indication of the superior NFL quarterback between the two due to the gap between the two franchises in terms of talent and playoff contention ability at the moment, what it will do is give us a glimpse into the ongoing relationship between the two men moving forward.
Remember, Murray and Mayfield are only going to be in their first and second years in the league this season, respectively. So long as they are both able to keep themselves relatively healthy over the bulk of their careers, the debate between Baker and Kyler could go on for 15 years, if not longer, if they’re both able to win multiple times.
At this moment, it certainly appears as though the Browns are much more poised to win sooner than the Cardinals, who are rebuilding and completely beginning anew with their coaching staff for the second time in as many years. Of course, the Browns have been there themselves far too many times to count, seemingly always blowing up what they’d been working on when it was clear that the team needed to go in another direction and start over with new personnel.
Mayfield has already gotten a taste of that in Cleveland with the firings of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley during the middle of last year. But the Browns now have a bonafide quality general manager in John Dorsey and with his selection of Freddie Kitchens to be the new head coach and the nucleus in place of a young, exciting roster comprised of Baker, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Jarvis Landry and, last but not least, Odell Beckham Jr., this sure doesn’t feel like the “same old Browns.”
It will take the Cardinals and Kyler Murray a little bit longer to reach the point at which the Browns find themselves, currently. While both the Browns and Cardinals technically have first-year head coaches, the situations are not the same. Freddie Kitchens was already part of the Browns organization before he was hired as HC and has a relationship with the fans and the offense, especially Baker. Kliff Kingsbury, on the other hand, showed up in Arizona this offseason straight out of the college ranks and has far less connections to the Cardinals than Kitchens does to the Browns (actually, if Kingsbury has a connection to anyone here, it would be Baker Mayfield, whom he coached at Texas Tech in 2013).
Clearly, the Browns, who have the better roster and more familiar, beloved coach, are closer to a Lombardi Trophy than Arizona, who finished with the worst record in 2018 and are in the same division as the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams, a Wild Card team in the Seattle Seahawks and a 49ers team that should be sizably improved from a year ago with the return of Jimmy Garappolo from injury and the selection of Nick Bosa in the draft.
To better understand the true long-term prospects of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in the NFL, we must look at the college statistics of both players. This may prove to be a little difficult, though, seeing as Mayfield played four seasons of college football (one at Texas Tech and three at Oklahoma) compared to Murray’s three (one at Texas A&M and two at Oklahoma).
In light of that disparity, it wouldn’t be fair to Murray to evaluate his college totals next to those of Mayfield’s, because with one less year with which to work, Murray wouldn’t be able to stack up to Mayfield in areas such as career yards, touchdowns, etc. That’s why we’ll only look at their career averages, percentages that won’t be greatly skewed based on Murray’s playing one less year than Mayfield.
Murray’s pass completion percentage in college was 67.4; Baker’s was 68.5. Murray’s average passing yards per attempt was 10.4, and his adjusted average passing yards per attempt was 11.1. Baker’s were 9.8 and 10.6. And Murray’s passing efficiency rating was 181.3; Baker’s was 175.4.
But in the NFL, Murray may have a harder time than Mayfield, based solely on his smaller frame. At 5-10, 195 lbs, Murray is three inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than Baker and when we’re looking at two quarterbacks whose statistics and backstories are otherwise very similar, even the slightest discrepancies between them, physically or otherwise, could mean the difference between who ultimately goes down as the better NFL player.
So while you probably read through this article expecting a light to arrive at the end of the tunnel, I don’t have a clear-cut answer for you on this topic and anyone who claims to is a liar. No one knows what will happen in the future. It’s difficult to determine who will be the better NFL quarterback between Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray because they share so many positive qualities that make countless football aficionados around the country excited to witness how both of their careers transpire.
There’s a lot to like about both of these quarterbacks, and their emergence in the NFL is exactly what the league needs. And although we cannot at this time determine which one will be better, as Browns fans, I think it’s pretty clear who we’re rooting for.