With a little over a month to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, the time is now for teams to distinguish the good players from the great in this year’s class. The most notable position that has been talked about throughout the pre-draft process has been the quarterback position. We all know how vital the position is to a team’s chances of success, especially if we look at the most successful franchises throughout league history.
While there are plenty of teams that need quarterback help, not all of these organizations will be picking from the “core four” of quarterbacks. These guys include: Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield. Each had terrific combines, pro days, and proved their hype was justified to the scouts watching. All of these guys are terrific prospects from not only a skills perspective, but physically too. Here’s a closer look at Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma Sooners
First, Mayfield has the athleticism to win games with both his legs and arms, similar to Russell Wilson. Mayfield, has shown that while he is not the fastest quarterback in the draft (4.84 40 yd-dash), he has the football instincts to diagnose whether a receiver is open or not. From there, he can create a play that would normally be a throwaway for most quarterbacks. We have seen this from Mayfield time and time again and it will not stop in the NFL if he can be in a system with a receiving unit that can create headaches for secondaries.
Next, Mayfield is known to not only talk that talk like a gunslinger, but walk it too. In the past two seasons, Mayfield has completed at least 70 percent of his passes. He has thrown for over 3,900 yards and at least 40 touchdowns with eight or fewer interceptions. Those are not stats that an average college quarterback will put up. Despite being in a defensively weak Big-12 conference with the Sooners, Mayfield was able to flourish in Lincoln Riley‘s system that exploited his skills as a scrambler and ability to make clutch plays.
While Mayfield may seem like a five-star prospect to some analysts, more people see this differently. However, the weaknesses cited can be very arbitrary and applicable to most quarterback prospects. Charlie Campbell, mentions that Mayfield has “happy feet in the pocket, inconsistencies reading coverage, and, of course, a disadvantage in height. He also mentions maturity pertaining to “the transition from collegiate to professional atmosphere”.
How can analysts make a statement for Mayfield off the field when most have only actually seen him on the field? Because in professional sports, as individual athletes, your reputation precedes you. In the past we have seen players like Johnny Manziel, who have had personality issues since college, enter the league and those same issues derail them.
The first weakness mentioned by Campbell, a senior NFL scout, is warranted as there are surely moments when Mayfield flashed some concerns with his decision making especially when facing with blitzes. On the contrary, Mayfield has shown the ability to manipulate defenses with fake hand offs as well as ball and pump fakes. After all of this, he would deliver a dime pass into single coverage for a 25-plus yard completion after drawing in pass rushers.
Best Fit: Miami Dolphins
This offseason the Dolphins have had Pro Bowl talents like Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey leave. The Dolphins front office has shown the league that despite losing arguably their three best players they are not content losing. The Dolphins may have lost Landry, but they replaced his 16 million dollar cap hit with Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. The Dolphins released Pouncey, but acquired Josh Sitton (PFF fifth rated guard) via free agency and Dan Kilgore (rated higher than Pouncey on PFF,) via trade with San Francisco. Other notable moves have been acquiring Robert Quinn and Frank Gore.
So why is Mayfield a fit?
It is no secret the head coach of the Dolphins, Adam Gase, has a history with quarterbacks. In 2013, he became the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, with Peyton Manning running the offense. Gase made a name for himself when Manning threw for 55 TD’s in 2013. After the 2014 season, he left the Broncos and joined the Chicago Bears to assist Jay Culter. That season Cutler was the 15th best quarterback according to PFF. Gase has a reputation with working with quarterbacks and Mayfield would be a good fit to develop behind Ryan Tannehill.
If teams give notice to the doubts raised about his maturity, Mayfield may benefit greatly from having an extra year to learn behind a veteran. This can help him not only learn how to be an NFL quarterback on the field, but off the field. Given what happened with Manziel, it may be wise for teams, in the midst of rebuild, to take a chance on him. The Dolphins, however, are not alone in their pursuit and study of Mayfield. The Broncos, Jets, Browns, and Bills have also been linked to him. The Dolphins may be the best fit, but everyone who follows the draft knows how anything can unravel in the process.