I don’t know Baker Mayfield, nor do I claim to have inside information Oklahoma’s football program. I’m just a fan with a laptop and a TV – all I know about the greatest player in Sooner football history comes from what I’ve seen and read about him.
I don’t fancy myself an expert on the NFL draft, either, but I reckon No. 6’s journey to the number one overall selection this year is the most unlikely in its history. Mayfield deserves to go down as an all-time great college quarterback, but the pro personnel folks pass on legends all the time. A signal caller doesn’t even have to be particularly good in college to get anonymous scouts’ tongues wagging.
A confluence of factors certainly contributed Mayfield’s meteoric rise – the infiltration of spread concepts into NFL offenses and a greater level of comfort in the pro ranks with smaller QBs, to name a few. Yet, in a QB-rich draft that saw five selected in the first round, why would such an unconventional prospect like Mayfield stand out to the Cleveland Browns as the pick of the litter over prototypes such as USC’s Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen of UCLA? (Yes, feel free to insert your “Browns gonna Browns” joke here.)
It sounds as though Mayfield essentially interviewed his way to the top of the draft. Most of the reporting I came across read something like:
The whisper campaigns that generally dog players with Mayfield’s panache were absent in the last four months. You didn’t hear rumors about the Heisman winner turning off teams during interviews. There was no talk of him rubbing his OU teammates or coaches the wrong way.
The “character concerns” surrounding Mayfield that ESPN so desperately tried to sell proved to be a farce. Instead, it turned out that character was his biggest selling point.
By almost all accounts, Mayfield just comes across as the kind of guy other players want on their side. For a moribund franchise like the Browns, it’s easy to understand the appeal of a player who could be that kind of catalyst for the organization’s culture.
A few teams whose drafts really stood out to me based on what I saw in college ball.
It seems as though I like what the Ravens do in the draft every year, honestly. Ozzie Newsome’s retirement could leave an even bigger mark than we all realize.
Landing Orlando Brown in the third round strikes me as a real coup. He dropped from the ranks of potential first-round picks with his terrible workouts, but that doesn’t mean Zeus Jr. can’t start at right tackle in the league for a decade. I think he’s actually as safe of a bet to contribute as you will find at that particular spot in the draft.
The Falcons’ first two picks sold me. Pairing Calvin Ridley with all those other weapons on offense is obscene. Absolutely loved what Isaiah Oliver was doing whenever I watched Colorado play.
Saquon Barkley’s brilliance is no secret, but I really like New York’s second-round pick, UTEP’s Will Hernandez. Go back and watch him versus OU in the game from the past season - that guy is just nasty.
Putting Sony Michel in the same backfield as Tom Brady? Damn.