The Cleveland Browns embarked on a rebuilding plan that was always centered on not selecting a franchise quarterback until the time was right.
That time arrived on April 26, 2018, when the Browns made quarterback Baker Mayfield the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Mayfield went on to throw for a team-rookie-record 3,725 yards in 2018, which is also the sixth-best mark by a rookie in NFL history. His 27 touchdown passes broke the rookie record of 26, which had been shared by Peyton Manning (1998 with the Indianapolis Colts) and Russell Wilson (2012 with the Seattle Seahawks).
As he prepares for his second season running a Browns offense that should be one of the league’s most entertaining, Mayfield is ready to take his place among the league’s best quarterbacks, according to Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News.
Iyer ranked the starting quarterbacks for the league’s 32 teams, and after the standard group that included Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady and New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Mayfield checked in at No. 9:
This is not just more Cleveland hype for 2019. Mayfield put together a terrific rookie season, one that could have been even better had Hue Jackson allowed him to compete for the job in the preseason, or had Freddie Kitchens been coaching him all the way. Now Kitchens is doing just that, and Mayfield has an elite No. 1 wideout in Odell Beckham Jr.
A look at the rest of the list highlights some interesting takeaways:
- Mayfield is ranked ahead of the other starting quarterbacks in the AFC North: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisber (No. 10), Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (No. 23) and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (No. 26).
- Mayfield is light years ahead of his fellow rookies from the 2018 NFL Draft: Sam Darnold of the New York Jets (No. 22), Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills (No. 25) and Josh Rosen of the Miami Dolphins (No. 35).
- Mayfield is ranked higher than several quarterbacks that the Browns were allegedly going to “regret” not drafting or trading for: Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz (No. 11), Houston’s Deshaun Watson (No. 13), Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky (No. 15), San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 16).
It may have taken the Browns longer than some would have liked to finally land their quarterback, but Mayfield quickly rewarded that patience as a rookie.
Now with a year of experience, a full season working with head coach Freddie Kitchens, and a high-powered offense at his disposal, Mayfield should continue his ascension up the ranks of the league’s best quarterbacks.