Baker Mayfield doesn’t always play the quarterback position by the books. But neither did Patrick Mahomes nor Johnny Manziel, who were both first round picks. Mayfield is neither of those quarterbacks, but his style of play is very similar. Some of his athletic abilities as a quarterback can’t be taught, but his mechanics must be.
The Oklahoma senior quarterback holds the school record for completion percentage and passing efficiency. He finished third in the 2016 Heisman voting and was one of the most entertaining players in the country. Mayfield lead the Sooners by completing 741/1093 for 9980 yards, 88 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He’s also added 307 carries, 772 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Mayfield lead Oklahoma to a blow-out victory over Auburn to capture the 2017 Sugar Bowl. At 6’1” and 220 pounds, Mayfield is considered undersized for the prototypical NFL quarterback.
Strengths: Mayfield has proven over the course of his career that he’s a leader by putting the team on his back late in games. He makes mature decisions and shows a quick trigger with off-man coverage. He has desirable arm strength to push the ball down the field with authority; uses strong velocity on throws when letting it fly in tight windows. Mayfield shows dual-threat ability avoiding rushers in the pocket and scrambling for positive yardage. His ability contort his body and alter his arm slot and release point on delivered throws is impressive. The senior’s accuracy is very good on short to intermediate throws. He’ll rarely make a bad decision — especially in the red zone.
Weaknesses: Mayfield mustn’t abandon his mechanics. He tends to get too free and loose with his mechanics in pocket-pressure situations. He falls in love with throwing off of one foot and fails to plant his front foot forward. His lead shoulder occasionally opens up when he’s throwing under pressure, causing poorly placed throws. He isn’t asked to make many reads, and mainly stands in the shotgun with a lot of inside zone or run-pass option in the backfield. He makes a lot of his plays outside of the pocket and on the run, and I question if he can sit back in a pocket and make plays consistently without feeling the need to abandon it for better vision. His lack of height may be problematic when looking over the offensive line at the next level.
No need to abandon the pocket here.
Overall assessment: There’s no question Mayfield is a college football star. He enters the year as a Heisman contender and must overcome his public intoxication arrest. The video that went viral of him being tackled by police officers was a bad look for him. He must mature off the field.
But on the field, he is an athletic quarterback who takes risks and can sling it in unorthodox ways. He’s not a conventional quarterback who stands tall in the pocket, but he’s a gifted playmaker with a great arm. Mayfield must improve his mechanics and stay committed to them. His overzealous footwork and pocket escapability needs to be adjusted to solve some of his accuracy issues, but there’s a lot to like about him as an NFL prospect. Sitting behind a veteran and adjusting to NFL speed could help him mature his game.
Prediction: Late first round