The Cleveland Browns, who haven’t posted a winning record since 2007, have gone from finishing 0-16 in 2017 to Super Bowl contenders in less than two years. While this turnaround could be credited to wide receiver Jarvis Landry, top defensive end Myles Garrett or new star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the real reason for Cleveland’s skyrocketing expectations is their quarterback, Baker Mayfield. The undersized QB who was slighted throughout the high school recruiting process and throughout his college career has quickly rose to NFL stardom after being selected by Cleveland with the number one overall pick in 2018. With a strong arm, above-average athleticism and high football-IQ, there’s no doubt that Mayfield has the potential to become a top quarterback in the league, sooner rather than later. Let’s take a closer look at how Mayfield has reached this point.
Full Name: Baker Reagan Mayfield
Birthdate: April 14, 1995
Birthplace: Austin, Texas
Team: Cleveland Browns – NFL
High School Career
Baker Mayfield attended Lake Travis High School in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where he started at quarterback for the Lake Travis Cavaliers for two seasons. Mayfield and the Cavaliers went 25-2 in those two seasons and won a state championship in 2011. In 16 games during his junior year, Mayfield threw 45 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, along with 754 rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns. The next season, Mayfield threw 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions, along with 281 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Despite the spectacular numbers and great team success, Mayfield was only given a three-star recruit rating by Rivals. According to Rivals, Mayfield was lightly recruited and his only offers were from Florida Atlantic, Rice and Washington State. He spurned all three offers and chose to walk on to Texas Tech’s football team.
Mayfield started the season opener for the Red Raiders in his freshman year and broke the single-game school record for completions with 43 completions, along with 413 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. He led the team to a 5-0 start before being replaced by incumbent starter Davis Webb III, who would eventually get drafted by the New York Giants. Mayfield earned the Big 12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year award before he decided to transfer to Oklahoma. Mayfield took the country by storm during his three years at Oklahoma as he put up video game-type numbers for the Sooners. He threw for 3700 yards and 36 touchdowns during his sophomore season and led the team to the College Football Playoff semifinals, where the Sooners fell to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Somehow, Mayfield exceeded those numbers in his junior season as he threw for 3965 yards and 40 touchdowns and led his team to a Sugar Bowl victory over Auburn. Baker-Mania became the top story in college football in 2017 during Mayfield’s senior season as he threw for 4627 yards and 43 touchdowns, planted an Oklahoma flag on the 50-yard line in Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium, taunted the entire Kansas Jayhawks team, won the Heisman Trophy and AP Player of the Year award and starred in Oklahoma’s 51-48 Rose Bowl loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Upon wrapping up his college career, Mayfield was initially viewed by NFL scouts as a first round pick but not the top quarterback in the draft as some teams pointed to his lack of size and maturity issues.
The NFL Scouting Combine process worked wonders for Mayfield as he impressed the Browns organization enough that the team shocked draft experts and passed on the projected top quarterback, Sam Darnold, and selected Mayfield with the number one overall pick. Mayfield sat on the bench as the back-up to Tyrod Taylor. In the Browns third game, Taylor got hurt and was replaced by Mayfield, who led the Browns to a stunning comeback win over the New York Jets. The victory marked the Browns first win in 635 days and anointed Mayfield as Cleveland’s savior. In 13 starts, Mayfield threw for 3725 yards and set a new NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes. Mayfield led all rookies in passing yards, passing touchdowns and pass completions.
As Mayfield readies for his sophomore season, expectations have ratcheted up for both himself and the team as many NFL pundits expect a playoff run from Cleveland. Mayfield is expected to take the next step in his development and will have plenty of weapons to help firmly plant himself in the discussion of the top NFL quarterbacks. These weapons include Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Kareem Hunt and Antonio Callaway.