The Buffalo Bills have a clear interest in the former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, having met with him at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, his pro day, at a private workout, and on a pre-draft visit this past Wednesday. The senior from the state of Texas offers many of the qualities that coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have professed to look for when evaluating prospects, but Mayfield also sports some clear deficiencies in his game. Here are some of pros and cons of the team will likely be debated this April 28th.
A true freshman walk-on at Texas Tech, Mayfield earned the starting job and went on to win Big-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. The year after, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was interested in having a quarterback competition between Mayfield and Davis Webb and Mayfield decided to consequently transfer to Oklahoma. After sitting out a year and eventually walking-on for the Sooners, Mayfield won the starting quarterback job in 2015. That year, Mayfield threw for 3700 yards and 36 touchdowns while taking his team to the College Football Playoff semifinal. In 2016, Mayfield improved on those numbers by throwing for 3,985 yards and 40 touchdowns. This past year, Mayfield again improved on his passing numbers, throwing for 4627 yards for 43 touchdowns, was voted the Heisman Trophy winner and again led his team to the College Football Playoff semifinal.
The case for Mayfield
The most experienced and productive quarterback in the draft, Mayfield has almost as many pass attempts (1497) as Wyoming’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold combined (1540). Mayfield demonstrates a clear upward trajectory, as he’s shown improvements every subsequent year. The former Sooners completion percentage has never dropped to lower than 64 percent in a season and the tape shows a prospect with deadly accuracy at all at the levels of the field. Although he doesn’t possess great straight-line speed, Mayfield is highly mobile in the pocket and can juke defenders when needed. Despite a lack of height, he sports a stocky enough build at 215 pounds. Mentally, Mayfield knows how to set up defenders with his eyes and get to his second and third reads quickly. When the play breaks down, Mayfield is able to roll out, keep his eyes down field and still deliver an accurate ball from any platform.
The case against Mayfield
At 6’0”, Mayfield’s height prevents him from having a completely unobstructed view of the field. Short quarterbacks are often forced to drop back further from the line of scrimmage or find passing lanes between offensive linemen. A couple of Mayfield’s passes were batted down at the Senior Bowl which could be a greater problem in the NFL. The Oklahoma offensive is a simplified spread-based scheme that boosts quarterback’s numbers with large throwing windows and easy completions. Mayfield has a tendency to drift to his left or right in the pocket, opening himself up to easy sacks from defensive ends. That tendency, combined with his overall aggressive nature, forces him into unnecessary pressure and sacks.
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