As a whole, the 2018 quarterback crop is among the most talented in a long time. Although they each have their warts, there are multiple franchise level QB’s to choose from and the Cleveland Browns own the 1st overall pick.
Please, do not screw this up.
I realize that Johnny Manziel may have pissed some people off, but let’s get one thing out in the open – any Baker is Johnny and Johnny is Baker comparisons can go somewhere else to die.
More importantly, it’s not accurate.
Johnny was talented (I really liked him) but Baker Mayfield is a vastly superior talent who doesn’t bring any of the off the field issues Johnny did. So aside from being a passionate, 6 foot tall QB from a spread offense, just stop.
What really matters is what happens on the field and within a locker-room, and Baker Mayfield is a leader in both places. I don’t care about his crotch grabbing, flag planting, or football tossing antics. This may seem like rocket science to some of you, but the majority of the 2018 draft class is going to mature and grow up over the next few years - that includes our boy. And please don’t point at his “run in with the law” either because there is no pattern of concern with Baker Mayfield. He made one mistake in college and by all accounts is a complete football junkie, not a frat boy like Johnny was.
Let’s widen the delta between the two. I don’t think Baker’s leadership is talked about enough nor is the fact that he started as a walk on and has had to earn every chance that he’s been given. Usually, a Heisman, Manning, and O’Brien Award winner doesn’t need to show up the Senior Bowl to prove anything to anybody. Still Baker showed up, in the midst of his mother being sick in the hospital, and he lead his team and competed in not just the practices, but the game because that’s just who he is:
“This type of training, it’s the type of stuff that I thrive on,” Mayfield said. “I know how to work. Not everything was given to me. I had to play the cards I was dealt, get better mentally, physically, push myself to limits that I didn’t think I was capable of, so this is another one of those scenarios.”
And throughout his career he has improved, not just on the field but off it as well. Former Oklahoma Sooner teammate and now NFL wide receiver DeDe Westbrook had some pretty flattering things to say about Baker as a leader:
We got beat by 20. Our worst loss of the season in our biggest game. The whole team was down. Seniors were sulking. The room was silent. But Baker — he just had this determined look on his face.
He was the first guy to stand up. And he put the loss on himself. Every mistake the team had made, every dropped pass — it didn’t matter — Baker put it all on his back. Everyone knew it hadn’t been Baker Mayfield who lost us the game, but he was our leader, and he wanted to be the guy held accountable...
My first season at OU, I lived almost a half hour from the field and didn’t have a car. So Baker Mayfield used to pick me up before practice and drop me off at my apartment afterwards pretty much every single day. We didn’t really even know each other at that time, but he did it like it was no big deal. The only thing he cared about was being a teammate and making our group of guys better. He was a leader in our locker room, the leader in our huddle, and probably the hardest working guy at practice.”
As we approach the silly season leading up to the draft, all rumors must be absorbed with context, especially when it comes to “sources” and what people are “saying” or “hearing”. One anonymous scout does not speak for everyone in any building, especially the GM or the head coach. And it’s also important to remember that there will hardly ever be a consensus on a player, regardless of position. Then there’s always the ever present “smoke screen” or “smoke in mirrors” tactic deployed to throw everyone off the true trail / intentions.
That said, as it pertains to the Cleveland Browns, it’s interesting to note that John Dorsey may value the size, speed & quickness formula at the QB position as much as he does other positions. If that’s the case again this year, guys like Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson may become the more appealing targets for the Browns whereas Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen may need to dazzle in other places to make up for their lack of physical traits. Then again, newly added consultant and avid Baker Mayfield supporter, Scot (with one t) McCloughan may stir some interesting opinions into the mix.
KRUPKA’S DRAFT GRADE:
Height: 6’ 3/8”
*taken from the Senior Bowl
Mobility + throwing on the run
Creativity when plays break down
Pocket awareness / feel
Adaptability / throwing platforms
Ball security + accuracy
Competitor / leader
Anticipation / timing throws
Hitting tight coverage windows in system
Last year I took a look at comparison data for all all the “top tier” QB’s from the last 5 years and this year I continued that composition:
Averaged 3rd Down and 7-9 yard completion percentage:
Averaged 3rd Down completion percentage:
Averaged TD / INT ratio:
2016 PASS CHARTING:
2017 PASS CHARTING:
“I love the game of football. There’s no doubt about that. Emotional player. I’ll do anything it takes to win. I love being around my teammates and I love leading and having responsibility.’’
Is it annoying and frustrating to get lumped in with Manziel?
”It is what it is,’’ he said. “If I paid too much attention to it, then I’d be focusing on the wrong things. But I came down here to play the game and show them that I love playing it.’’ - Baker Mayfield at the Senior Bowl
While I focused on the good stuff, Mark Schofield does a a fantastic job breaking down of all five (5) of Baker Mayfield’s regular season INT from 2017:
GEORGIA - Rose Bowl Game 2018 | 287 yards, 2TD, 1INT
OHIO STATE - Week 2 | 386 yards, 3TD, 0INT
IOWA STATE - Week 5 | 306 yards, 2TD, 0INT
TCU - Week 10 | 333 yards, 3TD, 0INT
BAYLOR - Week 4 | 283 yards, 3TD, 0INT
For me, the 2018 draft class really boils down to preference. Baker Mayfield is among the most prolific college passers of all time and he possesses an elite set of skills and intangibles that can’t be coached. He’s had to work hard for everything he’s achieved and he’s constantly had to prove opponents and doubters wrong. If you could somehow go into a Weird Science lab and modify his frame by adding 2 inches, he’d be a lock for the number one pick. Back in reality, I believe that he has the tools to become a truly great QB at the next level regardless of his height limitations. Baker’s passion is something that can’t be taught and it’s something that I feel will lead him to continued success in the NFL.
In order for him to find success at the next level he must go to a system that is flexible and have a head coach and offensive coordinator who are willing to work with his strengths and mitigate his weaknesses. Given Hue Jackson’s appallingly incompetent admission that he believes coaches shouldn’t adjust to the players on their roster, rather the GM needs to get players that fit the coaches system, it makes the addition of Baker Mayfield seem like a long shot for Cleveland. However, the addition of “The Consultant” is good news for the Baker Camp but I’m still guessing that Hue Jackson will have more pull than McCloughan (even though he probably shouldn’t).
So, if we pass on Mayfield - do I believe we’ll regret betting against him?
Would I be happy with Baker Mayfield?
And speaking of absolutes, we’ve been waiting for over 20 years for a franchise QB and we’ve suffered through enough organizational blunders to last 3 generations. Yet and still we “finally” have the #1 pick in a draft loaded with QB talent. Don’t tell me you don’t want us to draft a QB. Just jump on a SpaceX and get outta here. No matter who you add at QB in free agency, you take your QB1 with the first pick and never look back.
“The Cleveland Browns have not one, but two great QB’s on their roster.”
Sign me up for that “problem”.