Update: The Cleveland Browns have indeed drafted Baker Mayfield No. 1.
Baker Mayfield is the best prospect in this group, and the case is easy to make.
1. Basically all the numbers are in Mayfield’s corner, along with other stuff.
- He has the two highest-rated college QB rating seasons ever. Yeah, that’s largely against Big 12 defenses. So? He faced the hardest overall schedules of any QB in this draft.
- Besides, the opponent-adjusted S&P+ graded OU’s passing game No. 1 in the country two years in a row. (If you watched Mayfield’s 2017 games against the Big Ten champ and SEC champ, you’re not really worried about his level of competition anyway.)
- Bill Connelly finds a QB’s pro ceiling is essentially a floor (or 12) below that QB’s college ceiling, with ample recent history to enforce that notion. That post finds Mayfield’s ceiling is the highest.
- Football Outsiders’ QBASE formula mixes conventional wisdom with stats, giving a boost to players who are popular among scouts and mockers. Its all-time college top 10 — Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Marcus Mariota, Byron Leftwich, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger — gives it credibility as an NFL predictor. Wait, that’s only nine QBs. Oh right, it has Mayfield No. 4.
- Plenty of other analytics, including some that incorporate The Eyeball Test, have Mayfield No. 1 in this class or close to it.
- The Wonderlic is whatever, but in a better, modern version of an aptitude test, Mayfield had one of the best scores ever.
- Maybe you don’t like numbers. In that case, you can probably find 100 tape-grinders who agree with you on whichever of these top five QBs you like the most. They all have clear strengths, and — while I’m a Josh Allen skeptic — I would be comfortable with any of the other four at No. 1. I’d argue Mayfield has the best tape, but I’m a college football watcher, not NFL coach.
- (I could’ve pretty much just said “everything in that post ^ in which Allen ranks last, Mayfield ranks first,” added the photo at the bottom of this post, and pressed publish, TBH.)
- If you don’t trust OU’s air raid offense and assume he didn’t do any PRO-STYLE stuff in college, give this a read.
- His most frequent on-field criticism: his height. Well, he had fewer passes batted down than the towering Allen did, and he stands 6’0.5, according to the NFL Combine, about an inch below the average starting QB. Based on the discourse, you’d think he’s Spud Webb.
- His most frequent off-field criticism: his attitude. I don’t think there’s an actual red flag anywhere in this group of QBs, that we know of. All these players seem like unique, enjoyable teammates. Mayfield’s recognized as a fierce leader, a swaggering winner, and a black hole of raging spite, which, um ... sounds like a football player.
2. The night before the draft, he recreated Brett Favre’s iconic draft day jorts to absolute perfection.
Look at that. I rest my case.