From Walk-On to #1: Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield may be one of the most polarizing football players in college football history. Now he joins the Cleveland Browns and a long list of QBs who have been drafted by the Browns or should I say, “the place quarterbacks go to die.” Cleveland has had a long history of drafting quarterbacks in the first round that have never lived up to the hype. Since 1999, the Browns have drafted Tim Couch (1999), Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012), and Johnny Manziel (2014) who all were successful in college and came into the draft with high expectations. It’s safe to say none of them ever lived up to their expectations, continuing the Browns’ woes of searching for a franchise quarterback.

In the 2018 NFL Draft, which took place on April 26, the Browns kicked things off by picking Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, QB, from the University of Oklahoma with the #1 overall pick. This pick was no doubt a shock to a lot of people in the world and it left many wondering: will Mayfield live up to the hype, or will he just be another disappointment? Let’s take a look and see:

Whether you agree or disagree with Mayfield’s off-field antics, you cannot deny the facts: Baker was the best QB in the draft. Mayfield began his college career as a walk-on at Texas Tech University where he won the starting job and lead the Red Raiders with 2000+ passing yards and 9 touchdowns until he  was sidelined the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. When he returned, he was not given his starting spot back. Mayfield felt betrayed and felt like he had done enough to own the starting job and shouldn’t have had to fight for it again. This was the biggest mistake the Red Raiders could’ve possibly made. Mayfield then transferred to the University of Oklahoma where he walked-on and redshirted his first year. In 2015, Mayfield won the starting QB job from Trevor Knight, who was fresh off a 45-31 Sugar Bowl win against #3 ranked Alabama, and the rest was history.

During his tenure with the Sooners, Mayfield lead the Sooners to a 32-4 record over 3 seasons that included 3 consecutive Big 12 Championship titles and 2 College Football Playoff berths. Mayfield racked up a tremendous amount of award at OU including the Heisman Trophy Award in his final season with the Sooners in 2017. Mayfield ended his career at OU with the most passing yards, touchdowns, and highest passing completion percentage in OU history. He also finished his college career with the 3rd most passing yards in Big 12 history and 7th most in NCAA history. He also had the most total touchdowns in Big 12 history and 2nd most in NCAA history. In 2017, Mayfield finished the season being ranked 1st in the Big 12 and NCAA in several categories including pass completion percentage (70.5), passing yards per attempt (11.5), passing touchdowns (43), and passing efficiency rating (198.9). Based on these statistics it is safe to say Baker Mayfield is by far the best quarterback to come out of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Cleveland Browns ranked 24th in the league in 2017 in total offensive efficiency and amounted an average of only 14.6 points per game, a league worst. What the Browns need is a franchise quarterback who can win games and score points, and I believe Browns’ GM John Dorsey found that in Baker Mayfield. With the offseason additions of Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, and Carlos Hyde as well as draft pick Nick Chubb, Mayfield is equipped with sufficient weapons and a mentor in Taylor that will help him develop to his full potential. I do not believe the Browns will be instantly better, but they have definitely taken the right steps in the right direction.

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