After months of speculation in a deep QB class, Baker Mayfield was drafted with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. After the recent trade for Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield may not see playing time right away as he learns under head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. That will limit his fantasy impact as a rookie but with a huge investment at No. 1 overall and plenty of new weapons, can Mayfield end the relentless QB drought in Cleveland?
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, 6-1, 215
Mayfield had few scholarship options despite starting for two years at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. He decided to walk-on at Texas Tech and started right away due to an injury to Michael Brewer. Mayfield was injured in his fifth game and that kept him out of the lineup until the season was almost over. Despite playing well and leading the Red Raiders to wins, Mayfield was still without a scholarship in the spring semester and the transfer saga that ensued is full of bulletin board material.
After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, Mayfield won the starting job at Oklahoma in the summer of 2015 and never looked back. He improved his passing yards, touchdowns, AYA, and passer rating every season. The easy knock on Mayfield is that he plays in the Big 12 conference where offenses run wild, but his efficiency in the face of massive volume is truly incredible. He wasn’t propped up with short passes, as is sometimes the case with college offenses. Mayfield still got the ball deep and was the best of all draft-eligible quarterbacks in adjusted completion percentage.1
If you want accolades, Baker has them all, including a sweep of the major awards in 2017. Mayfield won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, Walter Camp, and the Heisman. Being the No. 1 pick is the cherry on top of an amazing career.
Mayfield ranked third in the final version of the RotoViz Scouting Index behind Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. That’s exactly where he started with our initial look at the position and shows how little movement at the top we’ve had during the draft process. Looking back at RotoDoc’s 2017 QB model, the focus is on hand size, throwing velocity, draft position, final year AYA, and film grade.
Mayfield’s hand size of 9 1/4 inches falls just short of the 9.5-inch threshold but is the only metric in the model that Mayfield doesn’t excel in. At the combine, his 60 mph throw velocity was second only to Josh Allen, and being selected first overall is the best case scenario for draft position. For final year AYA, anything above 7.0 is good, and Baker crushed that with 12.9. Mayfield obviously scored well with scouts, as his mobility, accuracy, and football IQ combined to overcome his short stature.
Recently, Blair Andrews explored the importance of draft age for quarterbacks. He found that age is an important factor for rookies, with 21-year-olds having a higher likelihood of success than any other age.
At 23, Baker is the elder statesman of the 2018 crop. While this is a red flag, it must be taken within the context of his other excellent metrics.
The plan for Mayfield will be laid out in the coming months. He will be competing with Tyrod Taylor, a player the Browns arguably wasted the No. 65 pick to acquire. Jackson confirmed earlier in the month that Taylor would be the Browns started at QB, regardless of who was drafted, although this is difficult to take seriously. When he gets his chance, Mayfield will do so with a plethora of offensive weapons to utilize.
The Browns also traded for wide receiver Jarvis Landry, sending the Dolphins pick No. 123 and a seventh-rounder in 2019. He joins Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman for a formidable wide receiver group to attack the defense at all levels, assuming Gordon can stay out of trouble and Coleman can remain healthy.2
At running back, the Browns signed Carlos Hyde to replace the departing Isaiah Crowell. They retain Duke Johnson as a passing threat out of the backfield. Johnson had 74 receptions last year and helps to remedy Hyde’s inefficiency in the receiving game.
At tight end, David Njoku and Seth DeValve combined for 65 receptions in an almost equal timeshare. Njoku has the draft capital and higher ceiling. He could be a factor in his second year.
The framework is in place for Mayfield to learn without the pressure of winning games. Taylor will serve as the bridge, which leaves Mayfield’s 2018 outlook murky. It’s possible he’s the starter by October or he could sit the majority of the season. For dynasty purposes, most of the top QBs will have to deal with bridge options ahead of them. A strong supporting cast certainly helps his projection, and he should be the first QB taken in rookie drafts.