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Draft Preview: QB Baker Mayfield

Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner enters the NFL Draft this month. Where will he land, and will it work?

The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the eight weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the quarterback position. Today, we look at Baker Mayfield from the University of Oklahoma.

College Career

Baker Mayfield had an astounding career in the Big 12, going 36-9 in 47 games played and rewriting many record books along the way. The 2017 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and Davy O’Brien Award winner will be drafted into the NFL this April. All eyes will be on the two-time All-American as the first round of the NFL Draft gets under way. There is not much doubt that Mayfield will be selected in the first round. The questions remaining are: How far will he fall? And to which team? 

Pros 

Mayfield showed surgical accuracy at Oklahoma. The quarterback completed more than 70 percent of his passes in both his junior and senior seasons and posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8:1 in 2017. He led the FBS 1-A in completion percentage and passer rating and finished second in passing yards and passing touchdowns against a stellar field of college quarterbacks this past season. 


Baker Mayfield College Stats

SeasonComp.Att.Pct.Yds.TDInt.
2013*21834064.1%2,315129
201526939568.1%3,700367
201625435871.0%3,965408
201728540470.5%4,627436

 *Played for Texas Tech prior to transfering to Oklahoma. Per NCAA transfer rules, Mayfield was forced to sit out the 2014 season.


In addition to being an accurate and productive passer, Mayfield makes plays with his feet. He gained over 1,000 yards on the ground in college and scored 21 touchdowns as a ball-carrier. Don’t let those numbers mislead you, though. Mayfield runs in order to buy time to throw and keeps his eyes down the field:


Obviosuly, Mayfield took home a lot of personal hardware last season, including a Heisman Trophy and All-American honors, but he is the ultimate team competitor. He plays with an infectious chip on his shoulder and is beloved by his teammates. He has a lot of big games under his belt, which gives him an advantage over Wyoming’s Josh Allen and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Mayfield has competed in two College Football Playoff semifinal games and beat 14 ranked opponents in his three years starting for the Sooners.


Cons 

There is no denying that Mayfield comes equipped with immaturity concerns. Mayfleld was arrested on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing and resisting arrest on February 25th of last year in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

And who could forget this past regular season when Mayfield directed a sideline crotch grab to the opposing sideline in a game versus Kansas? Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd has stated that he would not draft Mayfield for this reason. The quarterback’s issues off-the-field and attitude on it may have taken him off of some NFL scouts’ draft boards, as well. 

Mayfield has limitations on the field, too. He stands at 6’1,” 209 pounds. Some fans and analysts have made comparisons to star NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, but these players are remarkable exceptions to the traditional QB size prototype who have used their top-tier preparation, knowledge of the game, and God-given talent to make up for what they lack in height. 

A more realistic comparison to Mayfield is Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum, who isn’t an elite quarterback, but is a leader who can win your team games. Keenum took the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship last season after replacing an injured Sam Bradford in the beginning of the year. Keenum, like Mayfield, is recognized for his production as a quarterback in college. He set numerous NCAA passing records at the University of Houston. 

FInally, Mayfield lacks elite speed. He ran around a lot to make big plays in college, but NFL pass rushers will prove to be a massive upgrade compared to what he was facing in the Big 12, a conference known for its weak defenses and high-scoring games. Mayfield ran a 4.84 forty-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which ranked 10th out of 17 quarterbacks who participated. 

Verdict 

Smaller quarterbacks tend to get exposed in the colder weather, where big quarterbacks thrive. Think Carson Wentz in Philadelphia or Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. For this reason, Mayfield faces a higher probability of success with a warm-weather team. His size is one of many factors that will influence where he lands in this draft. 

First-Round Picks Held by Teams Expected to Draft a Quarterback in 2018


NFL TeamPick NumberWeather
Cleveland Browns1Cold
New York Giants2Cold
New York Jets3Cold
Cleveland Browns4Cold
Denver Broncos5Cold
Miami Dolphins11Warm
Buffalo Bills12Cold
Arizona Cardinals15Warm
Buffalo Bills22Cold


Cleveland will most likely select USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the number one overall pick, and the New York Giants will probably take Josh Rosen with pick number two. The earliest that I see Mayfield being taken is with the third pick from the New York Jets.  

The Jets traded away four crucial picks in 2018 and 2019 to move up just three spots in the first round, so they will be taking a quarterback. They will likely have to decide between Mayfield and Josh Allen (two quarterbacks who couldn’t be more different), though it is possible that Rosen will still be available if the Giants decide not to take a quarterback in the first round. In this case, the Jets will take Rosen and Mayfield will move down.  

Cleveland should have already taken a quarterback with the first pick, and won’t be taking one with pick number four. Denver’s number five pick is the most interesting pick of the entire draft for me. Their pick here depends entirely on what the first three teams decide to do in front of them. They could take running back Saquon Barkley or offensive guard Quenton Nelson, they could add a pass rusher, or they could could select a QB of the future.  

There are a couple of opportunities for Mayfield to be taken in the top five. The problem is that every team with a top-five pick this year plays in the cold weather, so these teams may be more inclined to take Allen over Mayfield after Darnold and Rosen have been taken. If Mayfield fails to get picked up by Denver, it is most likely that he drops down to pick number 11, held by Miami. This is where I project Mayfield will land. 

Two teams also in need of a quarterback, Buffalo and Arizona, could very well trade up ahead of Miami. Buffalo trading up from pick number 12 or 22 to take Allen and Arizona trading up from pick number 15 to take Mayfield would make the most sense based on these quarterbacks’ strengths. If Mayfield falls past pick number eleven, Buffalo could take him with their current pick at 12 or Arizona with theirs at 15, which is the lowest that I believe he could be taken.  

Best Fit

Mayfield’s best fit is clear to me: the Miami Dolphins, under young and intelligent Head Coach Adam Gase. Arizona would also make sense for Mayfield, but there is less chance for him to succeed in the stacked NFC West long-term. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is retiring soon, and the AFC East will be open for competition. Beyond that, the AFC as a whole is about to be open for the taking. 

Peyton Manning departed Denver after the 2015 season. When Brady leaves New England and Roethlisberger leaves Pittsburgh, new teams will find themselves competing for the driver’s seat of the AFC. The warm weather will be welcome to Mayfield and the Dolphins have enough talent on the roster so that a young quarterback will not have to carry the team. Miami was in the playoffs just two seasons ago, and can get back if they install an offense that caters to Mayfield’s strengths.

Edited by Brian Kang.

SQuiz
In 2017, Baker Mayfield finished second in FBS 1-A total passing yards. Who led the nation?
Created 4/11/18
  1. Sam Darnold
  2. Josh Rosen
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Luke Falk

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