Baker Mayfield was at home among family and friends when he got the news he was the No. 1 overall selection of the Cleveland Browns at April 26 NFL draft.
To a man, to their fans and to the entire National Football League universe, the Cleveland Browns front office said all of the things that their desperate city wants to hear about its first round draft picks.
For the sake of John Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson and all involved in the selection of Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as the top pick in the April 26 NFL draft, I just hope they are right.
“It has been a very important draft for the Cleveland Browns organization. At the beginning of the process when we got here in January, what we wanted to do is there were certain pieces in place. We went through unrestricted free agency to try to build and strengthen our team and to get better. That was a part of our strategy in terms of going into this draft, as well. Now, with that being said, I want to say one thing: my kids, Catherine and Jack, I haven’t seen them in about six weeks or so but did tell them – don’t get mad at me here – ‘Hi Catherine and hi Jack,’ if they’re out there. Apologize about that. I’m sure you will talk about like LeBron James’ amazing game last night," Dorsey explained at his press conference.
Jackson says the Browns plan to play to Mayfield’s strengths.
“We would do that with any player that we have. That is important that you put a player in the best position for him to have success, but I think we all know heading into this that (QB) Tyrod Taylor is going to be our starting quarterback first and foremost. Let’s make sure that we understand that, and that it is understood by Baker that he needs to come in here and learn the National Football League game. He is going to learn from Tyrod, and learn from (QB) Drew (Stanton). I think that is really important, but we will. I know (offensive coordinator) Coach (Todd) Haley extremely well. We will put him in the best position, when he plays, to have success.”
“With that being said, we have two quality players here, I truly believe. I think with (QB) Baker Mayfield, what we have is a guy who we talked about who wins the game of football, is-ultra competitive and is revered by his teammates and anybody who has ever been around him. This is a guy that has earned everything he has ever had from high school to college and now up here. He is a winner. He is competitive. He really is.”
Yea! All of that is true, but you just put the most doormat NFL franchise on the shoulders of a 6-foot, scrambling 23-year old quarterback, who was absolutely terrific in college but does not project to be as good in the NFL.
The last time the Browns picked a quarterback in the first round, he was just as similar. A Heisman trophy winner, a gutsy, brash 5’11 QB who made more headlines off the field than he did on it.
Johnny Manziel got Ray Farmer fired and his previous job was with the Kansas City Chiefs, the same former employer as John Dorsey.
ESPN college football commentator Kirk Herbstreit was enamored with Mayfield and so too were many others, but I just don’t believe the hype will ever measure up to the player in the NFL.
For the Browns to take Mayfield at No. 1 they must feel that he will be ready to play sooner, rather than later.
Is Mayfield Jeff Goff, Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck or Cam Newton, the last four quarterback’s taken as the first over all pick?
Jackson: “John said it, we are very excited to add two really good football players to our team. He just took you back to how we got to that process. Obviously, adding the free agents to our team allowed us to do certain things. Before I really get into all of that, I have got to thank, first of all, my coaching staff for all of the work that they put in and John’s personnel staff. It was a lot of work to go into this to make these decisions that are going to help our organization moving forward. What he said about Baker, here is a guy that wins football games, tremendous accuracy. Obviously, the guy was the best college quarterback this year by far in our opinion,” said coach Hue Jackson.
Again, Jackson is correct he was the best quarterback in college last season, by far I am not so sure about. However, this is NOT college football. It’s the NFL where all of the players are bigger, faster and with high levels of football intelligence.
None the less, Dorsey is still giddy about his new franchise quarterback, and for his sake let’s hope the former Kansas City Chiefs employee is correct.
“Going through our process and meeting with him, spending time with him, putting him on the board, digging into everything about Baker, we feel very comfortable as a coaching staff and as a personnel staff that this was the guy for us.”
“It is a combination of things. I talk about hand size; he has nine and six-eighths (inches) hands. When he came in here, we kind of measured his hands. He has nine and six-eighths hands. That is good for the elements in November and December. He has feet to extend the play. He has really good accuracy. He has a quick release. He has a strong arm. His efficiency in the red zone offense is uncanny. If in fact you go look statistically at all of the different breakdowns or categories of the quarterback position, he is either No. 1 or No. 2 in any of those quarterback positions. You know what else separates him? He is hungry. He wants to be a really good football player, and he is going to be a really good football player.”
Good is not enough for the No. 1 pick, he needs to be great or else this franchise will be set back for years to come and may never recover.
One thing we do know about Baker Mayfield, he is as good as he is going to be right now, it’s very doubtful if there is a high ceiling for the guy, but who knows?
“Everybody’s draft board is set up differently, and when I recite to you all the best available player in this draft for the Cleveland Browns organization, this was the best available player. What he brings to this organization, I couldn’t be more excited to have him. Those other guys are really good quarterbacks, too, but I just felt that this was the best fit for this organization moving forward.”
Mayfield’s size does not bother Dorsey.
“If you want to take one of those stats, if you look at the balls batted down at the line of scrimmage, guess what? He was the No. 1 guy who had the least amount of batted down balls at the line of scrimmage. What he does mechanically is he gets back faster than anybody in terms of getting the play back. That gives him an extra couple of yards to see the field, extend the play and make those plays downfield.”
Finally Dorsey said it’s about winning.
“We as an organization methodically thought about all of these different types of scenarios. At the end of the day, it is how they play the game of football. That came into play, but the guy knows how to play the game and knows how to win.”