Quarterbacks are the crown jewel of the NFL Draft. Franchises are willing to do just about anything to get one. If they hit they can set a franchise on course for a decade plus. The Jets traded four picks to move up to the number three pick of the draft. That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. Enter Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield is one quarterback many view as the best in this year’s class. And has been connected to the Jets since their trade. There’s a lot to like in his game. Let’s take a look at what he brings.
Baker was a lightly recruited 3- star recruit. Not many big schools really gave him a second thought. So he ended up walking on to Texas Tech. He then won the starting job as a freshman during camp. After the season he was told that they wouldn’t have a scholarship available. He then decided to transfer and walk-on at Oklahoma. He would win the starting job there as well and go on to finish his last three seasons in college for the Sooners.
Mayfield won the Big 12 freshman of the year in his lone season with at Texas Tech. He was very accomplished at Oklahoma. Winning the Bulsworth award twice as the most outstanding FBS football player to start as a walk-on. He was a two time Big 12 offensive player of the year as well. Three times he was named Big 12 first team, and twice named first-team All-American. He won numerous awards this past season as a senior including the Davey O’Brien, Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Heisman trophies. He also broke PFF’s grading system for QBs and posted numbers that are the highest among any college passer they have tracked.
There wasn’t much that the former walk-on did not accomplish in college. The only thing you could really say that he never did accomplish was winning a National Championship.
Tale of the Tape
Accuracy is Mayfield’s game. Every stat, analytic, and tape you watch shows that he has elite level accuracy. He’s able to put enough velocity on his throws to get the ball into tight windows. The added aspect of his placement on throws is what makes him stand out even further.
Baker Mayfield also has the ability to leave some off of his passes and lob them in over defenders. He can put the ball in any spot he wants to.
Baker can do more than just throw the short and intermediate routes. His arm is plenty strong enough to make the deep throws as well. Again, showing great accuracy and placement to make it easy for his receivers to work after the catch.
When working under pressure he doesn’t get raddled. Mayfield keeps his eyes up. He knows where the added pressure is coming from. Then delivers the ball in the hole that was vacated.
Baker is not a statue that has to stand in the pocket and just take the hit when the pressure is on. He is adept at manipulating the pocket. When he feels the pressure on him he’s able to step up and/or around defenders to get away.
When leaving the pocket Baker Mayfield is still dangerous with his arm. While running laterally to the line of scrimmage he is still able to make an accurate throw. Defenders in coverage must never give up when Mayfield has the ball in his hands or they will pay the price.
Keeping the ball from getting to receivers is not the only worry for defenders. Baker may not be the fastest player, but he can make plays with his legs. In the red zone, he becomes especially dangerous.
Baker is more than just a one read thrower. He is willing to go through his progressions and scan the field for an open target. As long as he has some time he will find the open man.
Another aspect of Mayfield’s game that makes him enticing in the NFL today is his ability to run the RPO. Baker has the experience of running these plays and has displayed the ability to make the read more often than not. There has been plenty of discussions involving these types of plays and with the NFL being a copycat league, we should expect more teams to adopt this play call into their playbooks.
There really isn’t much not to like on tape. Baker Mayfield shows a great number of the abilities needed to excel at the next level. Stats? Stats you ask? Oh yeah. That must be why he’s not considered elite. Most every stat you look at will show Mayfield at or near the top.
The problems most have are his off-field concerns and his height. He measured at a little than 6 feet at the scouting combine. That seems short for a quarterback. That’s because it is. While he may not be ideal height he is tall enough to play the position. So really, the only thing that seems to hold him back is the one thing that got him where he was. Himself. His work ethic and no quit attitude got him in the door to make this an opportunity. Now he needs to make sure not to waste the work he has put in.
Baker Mayfield will most likely be drafted in the top 5 of the 2018 NFL Draft. He will be one team’s future. Whichever team does draft him will have found themselves a quarterback they can build around. He may not be a perfect prospect, but he’s definitely one you don’t see failing on the field.