Jared Stanton – Chief NFL Writer
As Free Agency begins to settle down, it is now time to slowly start shifting our focus towards the NFL Draft.
There is plenty of buzz surrounding the event this year, as there is an abundance of talent available across a number of positions – most notably quarterback.
Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield all hope to be franchise quarterbacks at the next level, and whilst each comes with their own set of questions, their respective upsides are just too enticing to ignore.
As of right now, many people feel as though there’s not a whole lot separating these guys, but throughout the course of this article, it will be explained why Baker Mayfield is in fact the best quarterback in this year’s class.
When talking about college production, Barker Mayfield’s statistics are far superior to that of Darnold, Rosen, and Allen, and this is in terms of both volume and efficiency.
Of the four quarterbacks that have been mentioned, Mayfield’s career marks for completion percentage (68.5%), passing yards (14,607), and passing touchdowns (131) are the highest totals by a WIDE margin, and whilst Josh Allen has only thrown only 21 career interceptions compared to Mayfield’s 30, it worth noting that Allen’s career 649 passing attempts is actually 848 less.
It is easy to designate Oklahoma’s air-raid offense, as well as Baker Mayfield’s extremely large number of career attempts as reasons for why his passing numbers are so far ahead of his peers, but as previously mentioned his numbers also carry the kind of efficiency needed to prove their superiority.
Mayfield’s career touchdown percentage (8.7%), career interception percentage (2.0%), and career yards per attempt (9.8) are all higher than any of Sam Darnold (6.7%, 2.6%, 8.5), Josh Rosen (5.0%, 2.2%, 8.0), and Josh Allen’s (6.7%, 3.2%, 7.8) totals, meaning that he was able to out-produce these guys from virtually every angle.
Ultimately, Mayfield is the most aggressive quarterback in pushing the ball downfield, he throws touchdowns at the highest rate, and he throws interceptions at the lowest rate.
Numbers aside, the Sooner is the only high-level quarterback in this class who also has the accolades to back up his stellar play, leaving Oklahoma as a 2x Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and of course, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2017.
Sam Darnold was First-Team All-Pac 12 in 2017, Josh Rosen was Second-Team All-Pac 12 in 2017, and Josh Allen was Second-Team All-Mountain West in 2016, but that is about it for them as far as accolades are concerned.
Sure, many people feel as though Mayfield far from perfect given the questions surrounding his height and character, but honestly, are these really even concerns….?
Case Keenum and Tyrod Taylor both stand 6’1” just as Mayfield does, Drew Brees stands at 6’0”, Russell Wilson is only 5’11”, and there are a number of quarterbacks in NFL who are 6’2”.
Shorter quarterbacks have proven time and time again that they can have success in the NFL, and at some point in time, scouts need to start worrying more about a player’s ability more so than their height.
Whether or not Baker Mayfield play should be the main topic of discussion here, and he answer to that question is yes, he absolutely can!
Questions surrounding a player’s character are always a massive issue throughout the draft process, and they are magnified even further when it comes to the game’s most important position.
Mayfield has had certainly had his fair share of brain snaps in the past, but again, are his so called “character issues” really that much of a concern?
Most of his on-field antics stem from the fact that he is just a fiery competitor who plays with an extremely large chip on his shoulder, and whilst nobody doubts the fact that he has shown a tremendous amount of immaturity in certain games, it is much better to have to turn a guy down slightly as opposed to having to turn him up.
Of course, getting charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing from police back in June is quite alarming, but a little bit of perspective and compassion is needed with regards to this situation.
And since when did getting a little bit too drunk one time while you were in college make you a bad person anyway?
People often forget that a lot of these potential NFL quarterbacks are still only kids, and with a lot at stake, it is possible that Mayfield simply felt scared and just made a very poor decision.
Jameis Winston was far worse than Mayfield coming out of Florida State, yet he has turned out to be completely fine with the Bucs.
Teams should not be scared away by the fact that Mayfield ran a spread offense at Oklahoma either, as last season saw the implementation of a number of a number of pro concepts into the Sooners’ offense – most notably high to low reads, working through multiple progressions, and making throws from inside the pocket.
Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Jared Goff are all classic examples of how a spread quarterback can find immediate success when paired with the right coach who will play to their strengths, and there is no reason to believe that Baker Mayfield cannot be just as effective if drafted by the right team.
At the end of the day, Mayfield is a competitive quarterback with a burning desire to be great, and he has far and away out-produced his peers.
He has proven himself to be popular with his teammates, he has a textbook release, he throws with accuracy and anticipation, he has sustained his level of productivity whilst executing NFL concepts, and his ability improvise and punish a defense after a play breaks down is very Russell Wilson/Aaron Rodgers-esque.
He might not be the first quarterback taken on April 26, but do not be surprised in five years’ time when Baker Mayfield is the best quarterback from this year’s illustrious class!