The winner of the 2017 Heisman Trophy, Baker Mayfield, has a new home with the Browns after they drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Mayfield had a decorated college career. In his three years as a starter in Norman, he completed 70 percent of his passes for 12,292 yards, 119 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. He was one of those quarterbacks that was so skilled, as long as he was healthy and in a game, Oklahoma had a shot at winning every Saturday. That’s what he’s going to try to be in the NFL as well, this time on football’s biggest platform. That’s what he’s going to try to be in the NFL as well, this time on football’s biggest platform.
Mayfield is going to be the Browns’ 29th starting quarterback since coming back in 1999. He’ll have a chance to learn behind Tyrod Taylor, and will grow into an offense that has Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku. The Browns have also been building up their defense, most notably with Myles Garrett. Here’s why Browns fans should be excited for their new quarterback.
1. Baker Mayfield could be a franchise quarterback
Mayfield showed in college that he was a big-time quarterback. After transferring out of Texas Tech after the 2013 season, he took over at Oklahoma in 2015 and had an immediate impact. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,700 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions in his first year as a starter.
From there, Mayfield would only get better. It all came to a head in his senior campaign in 2017, where he completed 71 percent of his passes for a career-high 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns, with a career low of six interceptions. He also had 311 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The advanced numbers back up his game, too.
2. He’s played on the biggest stages
People often say this about quarterbacks who might not have the most skills, but were champions in college (let’s say, Tim Tebow). But Mayfield never skipped a beat, even when the Sooners changed coaches. His worst seasons in Norman were a pair of 11-2 seasons, including one that ended with a Sugar Bowl win for the 2016 season.
His 2017 didn’t end the way he wanted to after an overtime loss in the Rose Bowl to eventual College Football Playoff runnerups Georgia, but he’s got big-game experience. He’ll do what it takes to win a football game, but also has the skills to go along with it.
3. He could always get into the trick play game
One of the best plays of the Rose Bowl was when Oklahoma ran a trick play, resulting in Mayfield catching this touchdown pass:
Oklahoma would end up losing the game. But hey, if he’s ever in Nick Foles’ spot, you have to like his odds.
4. He will put on a show
We’re not talking about on the football field. He can execute choreographed dances while wearing a rainbow wig and green tutu:
He can also go solo:
That’s an NFL franchise quarterback, y’all.
5. He’s got some Brett Favre in him
Well, we’re not speaking in terms of on the field play. He recreated Favre’s epic draft jorts photo.
This is incredibly well done and creative.
He might get too fired up at times, but it’s nothing to get *too* worried about
Comparisons between Mayfield and Johnny Manziel have been made because of Mayfield’s competitiveness, but also controversy of the field.
Both had on-field incidents, with Mayfield’s taunting fans by attempting to plant a flag in the turf at Ohio State, or grabbing his testicles and mouthing “fuck you” from his sideline against Kansas. His off-the-field incident resulted in him going viral for getting tackled by a cop, where he later pleaded guilty to public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges.
My colleague Alex Kirshner has laid to rest the comparisons well, though:
After Manziel turned pro, he was accused of hitting and threatening a former girlfriend. He was ordered to take anger management training, go through a substance-abuse program, and sit on a domestic violence impact panel to have a charge dropped. Manziel has struggled with addiction and gone to rehab.
Mayfield’s concerns aren’t exactly the same level.
When Manziel was a draft prospect, his arrest in College Station was the only known legal strike against him. He had a famously, um, proud father (as does Mayfield) and a personality that many considered difficult to read. He had a minor NCAA scandal. He played in a spread offense, and the NFL was less comfortable with spreads just a few years ago than it is now.
Teams could’ve red-flagged Manziel for any of those things, but those traits didn’t ensure he’d later face a domestic violence allegation and fall out of the league.
Just because Manziel had issues and later displayed serious problems doesn’t mean we should assume Mayfield will have serious problems, too.
Sure, Mayfield can be ... testy? But to make an equal comparison of the two wouldn’t be fair. The Browns, who drafted Manziel in the first round four years ago, reportedly don’t see any similarities between the two.
Mayfield could very well turn out to be star NFL quarterback, and one who will keep things interesting — but in the fun sense of the word.