Baker Mayfield – Quarterback
School: University of Oklahoma
Weight: 220 Pounds
Baker Mayfield NFL Draft Profile
The 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner, Baker Mayfield, may be the most talked about player in the 2018 NFL Draft. Some scouts and media pundits are worried about his size and the scheme that he played in at Oklahoma. Others look at his tenacity and will to win, as his biggest upside. No matter where you see his draft value, there is no denying his talent and football IQ clash with the fact that he is the most talked about college quarterback since Johnny Manziel, a comparison that no player, let alone a quarterback wants.
So perhaps we should start there. Are the comparisons to Manziel fair? According to Sports-Reference.com, Johnny Manziel was 6’1″ and 210 pounds during his playing days. The website has Baker Mayfield listed at 6’1″ 220 pounds. That is where the comparisons should stop.
After playing one season at Texas Tech, Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma, where he became the starting quarterback in 2015. During his three seasons at OU, he amassed 119 touchdowns to only 21 interceptions. In his senior year, he finished with 4, 627 yards and 43 touchdowns to only six interceptions. Perhaps most impressive was his 70.5% completion percentage. In fact, his career completion percentage at OU was 69.8%
Another interesting stat line to look at is yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt. Adjusted yards per attempt is determined by taking pass yards plus pass touchdowns minus interceptions thrown divided by passing attempts. In 2017, Mayfield threw for 11.5 yards per attempt and 12.9 adjusted yards per attempt. To put that in perspective, during Tom Brady‘s 2017 MVP campaign, he threw for 7.9 yards per attempt and 8.4 adjusted yards per attempt.
When you look at Mayfield’s QB competition in the draft, none of his other top competitors crack 9 yards per attempt. Many scouts will attribute these “inflated” numbers due to the spread offense that Mayfield played in. However, something to point out, Deshaun Watson played in a spread offense at Clemson. His YPA and AYPA? 7.9 and 8.0 in his Junior season, respectively.
So let’s break down what made Baker Mayfield so good, and why, some scouts, still have some reservations with him.
One of Mayfield’s most gifted qualities is his pocket presence and awareness. He is extremely elusive but can still stand tall and make a big throw right before taking a big hit. His elusiveness should not be confused with tucking and running. He has a keen ability to extend the play with his legs but this does not mean he becomes a runner. In the pocket, he reminds me a bit of Drew Brees the way his feet are always moving and popping up and down. There are quite a few comparisons to Brees actually, and it is never a bad thing to have even one comparison to one of the greatest pocket passers of all time.
In order to be elusive in the pocket, you have to be confident in the pocket. The biggest difference that you will see in quarterbacks that tuck the ball too quickly when they feel the pocket “collapsing” is a lack of confidence. Mayfield certainly does not lack any confidence and that attributes to his success.
Probably his most underrated attribute is his arm strength. Mayfield may not blow you away with his arm talent, but it is well above average and he can certainly make all the throws in the route tree and at all three levels. This is one of the biggest misconceptions with a lot of “spread” quarterbacks and why many analysts accuse “bloated” stats in Mayfield’s career. The spread offense was incorporated to utilize quarterbacks that had mediocre arm talent and give them the ability to succeed. However, Mayfield breaks this stereotype. He has an extremely powerful “flick of the wrist” and get’s the ball out quickly. Not to mention, he is one of the most accurate college quarterbacks, period.
Baker’s greatest strength is the intangibles that cannot be taught. He is emotional, passionate, resilient, a leader, and above all, a winner. These are, quite frankly, some of the most important qualities that you want in any football player but especially a quarterback. He is a guy that his team will rally around and trust down the stretch.
It is completely overstated, but must be mentioned, at 6’1″ Mayfield’s size is a concern for many scouts and general managers at the NFL level. I don’t see it as much of an issue, but it is one that many teams hold in high regard.
Going Through Progressions
While he does a relatively good job at making his progressions and scanning the entirety of the field while making quick decisions and quick throws, he does have the tendency to stare down and commit to his first option too long and too often. There were many occurrences when he forced throws to his called screen or first option when it just wasn’t there. He will have to clean this up or the speed of the NFL will force way more than six interceptions.
As already stated, confidence in his ability is a huge upside, but it can have it’s negative consequences as well, one that we see often with young quarterbacks. There are times when he trusts his arm strength too much and his throwing mechanics falter. Mayfield made a lot of throws, including many that went for touchdowns, from his back foot or as he was falling away from the receiver. Some of these throws were highlight-reel worthy but will result in a turnover in the NFL.
He has the ability to make the deep throws but is not elite with his deep accuracy. As stated, has a quick and powerful flick of the wrist, but does not have elite “zip” when throwing to the third level. Sometimes this was a timing issue and can be fixed.
He makes all throws primarily out of the shotgun. Some NFL clubs take issue with this, while others will adapt their scheme. The NFL has been transforming over the past few season’s into a shotgun-heavy league so I do not see this causing too much of a stir. Mayfield checks off the top priority of most quarterback prospects which is the ability to make all of the throws.
Baker Mayfield is an extremely talented quarterback that has good arm talent, elite accuracy, and leadership qualities and intangibles that cannot be taught. If he gets put in the right offensive scheme with the right coach he has the ability to become a great NFL quarterback with a long career.
NFL Player Comparison
Teams With Need At Quarterback
Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills