Baker Mayfield doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an NFL quarterback. He’s not very tall and he doesn’t have a cannon arm. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a successful starter on Sundays.
Mayfield makes up for his lacking physical traits with intangibles. He’s a winner; he’s gutsy; he’s a playmaker.
That said, there have been plenty of guys like Mayfield who’ve entered and washed out of the NFL. The most recent example is Johnny Manziel, another undersized but athletic quarterback who made the most out of every play.
Manziel was drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in 2014, but his off-field decision making derailed his career. Any comparison of Mayfield to Manziel is for on-field purposes.
One NFL Draft analyst, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, did just that in his latest First Look piece for NFL.com.
“After a few Houdini-like plays from Mayfield, I wrote down “Johnny Manziel 2.0″ in my notebook,” Jeremiah wrote. “After studying a full 3 games, I felt like that wasn’t a great comparison. Manziel was a little more dynamic than Mayfield as both a passer and runner. I know Manziel’s NFL career didn’t pan out (mostly because of off-field issues) but Manziel did possess a unique skill set.”
Jeremiah retracted his Manziel comp and offered a less-than-thrilling substitute: Colt McCoy.
“I know OU fans won’t appreciate this comparison, but I think they are similar athletes and possess similar arm talent. Both guys were big-time winners in college and I think Mayfield, like McCoy, will have a long NFL career as a solid No. 2 QB,” Jeremiah concluded.
It’s hard to argue with Jeremiah’s assessment. Mayfield is a thrilling Saturday talent who may fall short of duplicating that success on Sunday. It’s not to say there isn’t a place for him in the NFL, and it’s not dismissing the possibility he outplays his eventual draft position along the lines of what Russell Wilson has done with the Seattle Seahawks.
But projecting Mayfield as anything more than a mid-to-late Day 2 player (at best) is a major overshot. I have him projected as a third round pick right now, and I don’t see his value rising any higher than that.