2018 NFL Draft: Should the Browns Draft Baker Mayfield First Overall?
If Baker Mayfield was two inches taller and had a bit of a different personality, he might be considered as a generational quarterback prospect, justifying a case to be taken first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Indeed, stature and some sass are two things that have kept some skeptical, but nothing in the draft is fact, and there's no exact science to it. However, now that all the reports and numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine have come in, we should consider some of the evidence that places Mayfield at the very top of the class.
Despite being on the smaller side, Mayfield clears the critical thresholds. He's over 6 feet tall and has hands larger than 9 inches. His other Combine measurements indicate average top-end speed and excellent agility to make escape moves like these when dealing with a pass rush.
According to Ourlads, Mayfield's strongest throw during the passing drills hit 60 mph on their radar gun. That gives the "undersized" quarterback a Throw Velocity in the 97th percentile on PlayerPlayer. His best comparable player on the site is appropriately Drew Brees due to very similar height, weight, and arm length measurements.
Speaking of those drills, Mayfield was credited by many as having the best passing performance and impressed during the team interviews where he addressed his arrest, his attitude, and aced drawing up plays on the white board. And thanks to this recent study by numberFire's Jim Sannes, we also know Mayfield's age is right on par with past quarterbacks that have been selected in the first round.
At age 18, Mayfield became the first walk-on true freshman quarterback to start an FBS season opener. He left Texas Tech at the end of the 2013 season in a messy transfer to Oklahoma. Mayfield then had to sit out a year before dominating the Big 12 for three straight years. Over those three incredible seasons at Oklahoma, Mayfield improved his level of play even though the supporting cast around him declined and the competition he faced improved.
In the 2018 class, Baker Mayfield is:
- 1st in Adjusted YPA
- 1st in Adjusted Completion%
- 1st in QB Rating
- 1st in Completion% Under Pressure (SIS)
- 1st in QB Rating on deep passes (PFF)
- 1st in QB Rating on play-action passes (PFF)
- 1st in QB Rating on non-PA passes (PFF)
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) March 8, 2018
With each season, Mayfield successfully worked with a new leading wide receiver: Sterling Shepard in 2015 followed by Dede Westbrook two years ago. On the ground, the Sooners featured the impressive running back duo of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, with the former making a positive impact as a receiver.
But of course, Mayfield didn't have any of those guys in 2017 and went on to have the best season of his career anyway. Oklahoma's new leading receiver -- Marquise Brown -- is only 5'11" and 162 pounds. The number-two option -- Mark Andrews -- was basically a big slot receiver faking it as a tight end. Even fullback Dimitri Flower was scoring touchdowns as a receiver; which sounds very Brees-esque.
So not only is Mayfield getting incredible production from all types on offense, he did it all in an extremely efficient manner. A quick review of anything Pro Football Focus has ever written about Mayfield tells you that he's been the best in just about every grade they give and every metric they calculate each of the last two years: lowest percentage of negative throws, highest passer rating under pressure, and most play-action touchdowns. The list goes on and on.
And we aren't talking about dink and dunk stuff here. Mayfield was excellent on deep passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. Before trying to claim that he inflated his stats playing in a conference known for abysmal defense, consider the Big 12 was actually stronger than the Pac-12 last year according to ESPN Advanced Stats, a conference where other top quarterback prospects Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold played in.
Mayfield won all the awards. He's extremely accurate. He'll even tell you know about it. As a senior, he broke the passer efficiency rating record that he set the year prior. And for crying out loud, just seeing two seasons with more than 11 yards per attempt on his statistical profile should melt your face off.
Mayfield treated real life college football like the NCAA Football video games he played growing up. Right now, no quarterback in the draft is better equipped when it comes to increasing the difficultly mode to "NFL".