#1 Browns: QB Baker Mayfield

A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Mayfield arrived in Norman at the same time as Lincoln Riley (offensive coordinator in 2015-16, head coach in 2017), forming a lethal offensive tandem with the Sooners’ up-tempo, spread scheme that resulted in two College Football Playoff appearances and three Big 12 Championships. Although his ordinary height and body type aren’t ideal, Mayfield has a NFL-level arm with developed touch and accuracy downfield that translates very well to the pro game.

One of Mayfield’s best traits is his playmaking ability outside of structure, using his scrambling instincts to improvise when the pocket breaks down. He appears crazed in his movements, but Mayfield has the mental processing speed and slow heart beat to stay composed. He is the type of fearless, locked-in competitor that you don’t bet against, but his maturity level is a concern because he doesn’t know how to turn off his competitive nature – it’s how he is wired on and off the field, leading to situations of questionable judgement. Overall, Mayfield’s brash personality won’t be ideal for every situation and his long-term durability is a concern, but he has the necessary passing traits, both physical and mental, to be a winning starter in the NFL, stylistically similar to Jeff Garcia.

A three-star quarterback recruit out of high school, Baker Mayfield led Lake Travis to a 25-2 record in his two seasons as a starter and earned District MVP honors. However, lacking the ideal measureables, he was overlooked by most power-five programs and mulled over scholarship offers from Washington State, Rice, New Mexico and Florida Atlantic.

But Mayfield (with the encouragement from his father, James) wanted to play at a higher program and he walked on at Texas Tech. Not only did he make the team, but worked his way to the top of the depth chart and (with expected starter Michael Brewer injured) became the first true freshman walk-on to start a FBS season opener.

Mayfield completed 64.1% of his throws (218-for-340) for 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions, earning Big 12 Freshman offensive player of the year honors. However, he was injured midway through his freshman season and Kliff Kingsbury elected to stick with fellow freshman Davis Webb as the starting quarterback, which didn’t sit well with Mayfield.
Despite his productive freshman year, Texas Tech didn’t commit a scholarship for Mayfield and with Webb and incoming freshman Patrick Mahomes atop the quarterback depth chart,
Mayfield elected to transfer to Oklahoma. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Mayfield sat out the 2014 season and the Big 12 amended their rules so walk-ons could transfer without losing a year of eligibility. He beat out incumbent starter Trevor Knight for the Sooners’ starting job in 2015 and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, posting 68.1% completions, 3,700 passing yards, 43 touchdowns (36 passing, seven rushing) and seven interceptions (finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting).

Mayfield improved his production as a junior and finished with 71.0% completions, 3,965 passing yards, 46 touchdowns (40 passing, six rushing) and eight interceptions, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors. He was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Heisman Trophy, finishing third in the voting. Mayfield returned to Norman for his senior season and had his best collegiate season, winning the Heisman Trophy Award – became just the second player (along with Herschel Walker) to finish in the top-four voting for the award three different years.

Quick-footed athlete with subtle pocket maneuvers and instinctive scrambling skills. Holds a graduate degree in working off-script, buying time, throwing from different platforms and using various arm angles. Requisite arm strength to zip throws into tight areas. Quick load-and-fire delivery motion. Above average processing speed to make whole field reads and anticipate windows.

Gives his receivers a chance to make a play with his timing and ball placement. Displays natural touch on throws to the outside and deep shots. Short memory and doesn’t dwell on mistakes. Toughness (mental and physical) and competitive drive not question marks for this player. Unfazed by the blitz and trusts his internal clock. Slow heart beat and thrives when the lights are the brightest. Carries himself with infectious energy that other players follow. Supreme confidence (walked on at two different FBS power-five schools) and was a two-time winner of the Burlsworth Trophy (most outstanding player who began career as a walk-on). Father (James) was a collegiate quarterback at Houston (1967-69). Production improved each of his four seasons as a collegiate starter, setting numerous Oklahoma records. – Dane Brugler 12/12/2017

Shorter than ideal with a lower release point. Routinely throws without setting his feet and relies more on his arm than body mechanics to deliver fastballs, which works for him more times than not, but will also result with inaccurate throws. Frantic eyes and moves too quickly through his reads, leading to missed open receivers or failure to locate disguised coverages. Inconsistent reading blitzes pre-snap.

Bad habit of holding the ball too long and takes sacks he shouldn’t – benefited from strong offensive line play at Oklahoma. Fumbled 13 times at Oklahoma with too many examples of him being careless with the ball when scrambling. Lacks ideal body mass and his never-surrender style leads to unnecessary hits on his frame – didn’t miss any games the past three seasons at Oklahoma, but battled several minor injuries, including a bruised right (throwing) shoulder (Oct. 2017) that kept him from practicing for several weeks.

Edgy, highly-competitive personality and needs to develop thicker skin and better control his emotions to prevent lapses in judgement – suspended the first series of the 2017 West Virginia game following his actions (grabbing his crotch and yelling obscenities toward the opponent) vs. Kansas (Nov. 2017) the week prior.

Needs to mature on and off the field – arrested and charged (Feb. 2017) with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing after Washington County (Ark.) police responded to an assault report and Mayfield attempted to run from authorities. Left Texas Tech on poor terms due to “miscommunication” with the coaching staff and was forced to hire a lawyer to gain his release from the program to receive a scholarship from Oklahoma. Benefited from a fast-break spread offensive system in a conference with below average defensive play that helped inflate his production – inexperienced under center. – Dane Brugler 12/12/17

COMPARES TO: Jeff Garcia, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, among others - A four-time NFL Pro Bowler, Garcia helped lead the 49ers to several postseason appearances, using his athleticism and improvisation off platform to make plays. Mayfield is cut from a similar cloth, lacking ideal size, but relying on his natural instincts to sustain drives.

IN OUR VIEW: Mayfield is the type of fearless, locked-in competitor that you don't bet against, but his maturity level is a concern because he doesn't know how to turn off his competitive nature - it's how he is wired on and off the field, leading to situations of questionable judgement. Overall, Mayfield's brash personality won't be ideal for every situation and his long-term durability is a concern, but he has the necessary passing traits, both physical and mental, to be a winning starter in the NFL.