The Oklahoma Sooners rode the crest of a wave with Baker Mayfield at quarterback last season to reach the CFB Playoff semi-finals last term. They were only beaten by in the second period of overtime by the Georgia Bulldogs, despite the best efforts of Mayfield and running back Rodney Anderson. Mayfield’s exploits for the team during his three years in Oklahoma saw him selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first-overall pick in the 2018 Draft. The 23-year-old leaves a void, having excelled for Lincoln Riley’s men.
Cleveland were the laughing stock of the NFL last season, becoming only the second team in the history of the league to go 0-16. Mayfield is in a battle with veteran Tyrod Taylor for the starting role under Hue Jackson. The Browns are not on course for a dramatic improvement in the 2018 season, with the playoffs a distant dream for the club. Mayfield’s ability on the field proved to be a huge factor driving the Sooners onwards towards the college playoffs. However, it will be too much of an ask of him to repeat his heroics in his rookie campaign at Cleveland, he could inspire them to a six-win term at odds of 8/13 on the over of 5.5 at William Hill.
There is better value to take the Browns to win five matches or under at 7/5, which would not be a surprise given their recent history. The effect of the 23-year-old could be transformative for Cleveland, and although they’ve had their troubles in the NFL, especially in the AFC North, it may be their time to spring a surprise. There’s talent on the team to make strides towards winning the division for the first time since their return to the NFL in 1999 in the NFL betting odds at +1000.00 with 888sport. At times last term for the Sooners, Mayfield carried the fortunes of the team on his own back. His maneuverability in the pocket allowed him to make several plays downfield. The quality of his displays was noted as he won the Heisman Trophy, which made him the man for the Browns to select with the first-overall pick.
Mayfield’s accuracy was evident in his first pre-season game for Cleveland against the New York Giants when he threw two touchdowns. It’s tempting to look too deeply into pre-season games, but the signs were encouraging for Jackson’s men, although the club did win all four of their matches in August the last term before their winless regular campaign. Mayfield has that electric persona on the field. A previous Browns quarterback Jonny Manziel also displayed the same skills in the college game. However, Mayfield seems to have a stronger sense of adaptability compared to one of his predecessors. He has impressed in his early press conferences and has reportedly displayed a committed work ethic in the film room. Whether it’s enough to provide a dramatic improvement for Cleveland from their disastrous 2017 season is another matter. He certainly has the talent and should he reproduce his performances from his Sooners’ days, it may break the Browns’ cycle of failure.