Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield looked like a rookie on Saturday night against the Denver Broncos.
Mayfield only completed 58.1 percent of his passes on the night - his lowest total since the October 14 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He also only threw for 188 yards and 6.07 yards per attempt - both his lowest output since the October 28 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But unlike those two games, Mayfield found a way to lead the Browns to a win, the team’s fourth win in its past five games.
Even coming off a rough day, Mayfield is still far and away the league’s best rookie quarterback, easily outpacing Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals, according to Pro Football Focus:
Baker Mayfield is still the highest graded rookie quarterback in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/XmCUoFh7to— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 18, 2018
The analytics site summed up Mayfield’s night against the Broncos:
Mayfield started the game off well with a beautifully thrown corner route for a touchdown on his team’s opening drive. However, his accuracy waned for the remainder of the first half, which led to a red-zone interception at the end of the second quarter. He turned it around enough in the second half to lead the Browns to the lead late in the game, and he ended the game having completed 18-of-31 attempts for 188 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a passing grade of 57.9, which was his lowest mark since Week 9.
Looking at the grades of the other rookie quarterbacks, it is easy to envision fans of those teams working hard to talk themselves into their teams’ respective quarterbacks being “the guy.”
Browns fans are certainly familiar with that drill; thankfully those days appear to be over because of Mayfield.
Mayfield is not the only first-round draft pick for the Browns, of course, and even though he has not played the past two games while dealing with a concussion, Denzel Ward is still holding firm as the league’s best rookie at his position:
The highest graded rookie cornerbacks so far this season. pic.twitter.com/wq5mTyfHvb— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 18, 2018
The Browns have not yet announced if Ward will be cleared in time to play in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.