The 2018 NFL Draft is this week and Baker Mayfield is one of the top prospects, expected to be taken in the first ten picks. With that in mind, here’s our complete scouting report on the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback.
Mayfield is from Austin, Texas, which makes him one of the only QBs from somewhere other than California. Mayfield went to Lake Travis High School in Austin and was the starting quarterback there for two seasons.
In his two seasons at the helm, Lake Travis went 25-2 and won the 2011 Texas State Championship. Mayfield finished high school with 6,255 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions.
Despite his impressive high school resume, Mayfield was only listed as a three-star recruit and didn’t accept a scholarship to play football. Instead, he decided to become a walk-on at Texas Tech University. After an injury to Red Raiders starter Michael Brewer in preseason, Mayfield became the starting quarterback. He is believed to be the only walk-on true freshman to start at QB for Texas Tech ever.
After his freshman season, Mayfield enrolled at the University of Oklahoma because of scholarship issues as well as feeling like further competition for the starter’s role was unfair. He thought he had earned the clear-cut starting QB position.
Mayfield became a walk-on at Oklahoma and became the starter once he was eligible after sitting out a year. Mayfield went on to start for the next three years at Oklahoma and totaled 14,320 passing yards, 129 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions combined between Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
In February of 2017 Mayfield was arrested in Arkansas for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police said that Mayfield was “causing a scene” when officers tried to speak with him. Mayfield pleaded not guilty to all charges. He also completed University-ordered community service and an alcohol education program.
Mayfield used a spread scheme to find open receivers and post gaudy numbers during his time in college football.
In eight games for Texas Tech in 2013 as an injury replacement, Mayfield completed 218 of 240 passes, good for 64.1% completion percentage. His 2315 yards and 12 touchdowns would be the fewest of his collegiate career and the nine interceptions was the highest number.
Two years later in his first season after transferring to Oklahoma, Mayfield threw for 3700 yards and 36 touchdowns while taking his team to the College Football Playoff semifinal. His yards per attempt jumped to 9.4 and while he tripled his touchdown total from his freshman season, he threw two fewer interceptions. His completion percentage also went up.
In 2016, Mayfield improved on those numbers again by throwing for 3,985 yards and 40 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. His completion percentage topped 70% and his yards per attempt jumped over 11.
This past year, Mayfield again improved on his passing numbers, throwing for 4627 yards for 43 touchdowns and only six interceptions, was voted the Heisman Trophy winner and again led his team to the College Football Playoff semifinal. He threw for 11.5 yards per attempt and again topped 70% completion percentage.
While Josh Allen is criticized for a career completion percentage under 60%, Mayfield never had a season under 64%. 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 is not a rare specimen, but his raw tools are enough to work in the NFL. He stands a hair over six feet tall, weighing 215 pounds. While he had a reputation for scrambling and making plays on the move, Mayfield is a typical athlete for a quarterback. His arm strength is good, but not great.
Mayfield’s game is more casual and spread-style than Josh Rosen, but mechanically he isn’t all over the map like Sam Darnold or Josh Allen can be. Mayfield generally throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, but he can vary the throwing angle depending on the situation. He stands and throws with very wide-set legs under his throwing platform in the pocket, which works great when his initial target is open, but he can improve the way he resets his feet as he steps through his progressions.
Mayfield is comfortable standing in the pocket and using his feet to step around pressure. He’s also able to deliver throws without his feet set, using his waist and shoulders to generate force. Mayfield understands how to throw with touch and take some heat off the ball in the right moments. He also features an array of shoulder fakes and pump fakes in his game.
I want to make the distinction between accuracy and precision when talking about Mayfield. In terms of his ability to place the ball where his receiver would have a chance to attempt a catch (accuracy), Mayfield is the best in this class, and the stats will bear that out. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, and advanced metrics all indicate that Mayfield did an outstanding job of spotting the ball to a catchable place.
Mayfield has a great understanding of how to throw a trajectory over or around a defender, and he’s deadly in the red zone when the field compresses.
(Also - you have to love the absolute glee the guy experiences when his teammate scores a touchdown.)
However, Mayfield’s ability to precisely place the ball into an ideal place - where his receiver doesn’t need to adjust to the throw, and where a defender can’t reach it - that ability isn’t as strong as Rosen or Darnold.
When Mayfield is on the run, his precision is much tighter, but there are plays scattered throughout the tape where his teammates are reaching, leaping, or turning in order to catch passes from him. And this is nitpicking, a bit, because his window accuracy is so good to begin with.
Processing speed and decision-making
Mayfield is one of the better field-readers in this draft. He can identify favorable pre-snap coverage to throw against, he’s excellent at seeing blitzes and throwing into their vacated space, and he even anticipates the occasional throw coming open. It helped that Mayfield played in an extremely well-crafted offense by Lincoln Riley, but the 23-year-old took care of business under center.
In terms of pocket presence, Mayfield fits into a similar bucket as Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor - as shorter quarterbacks, they sometimes have trouble seeing around the bodies on the field, and do best when they can step to a place that gives them clear sightlines. This quality forces Mayfield to make adjustments when the pocket isn’t ideal for him. It also gives him a tendency to escape the pocket when he feels it compress.
If Mayfield can mature in the pocket, he has the foundation in his vision to develop into a Drew Brees-style passer. Before he can get there, he needs to fix up his lower body mechanics, and learn to stand in more consistently when his first few options aren’t available.
The case for and against Baker Mayfield
The case for Darnold
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.
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.
(By Dan Lavoie)
In looking back at the rest of this report, I think it sounds like I’m downplaying Mayfield. I hope that isn’t the case. Mayfield’s playmaking ability, throwing accuracy, and decision-making with his passes are all plus attributes that deserve to get him drafted early in the first round this year. He has a few flaws to his game, but if they’re effectively schemed around, I think you have a player who is tremendously dangerous when running play action and working from a mobile pocket.
Furthermore, the factor of Mayfield’s hypercompetitive attitude, the way he plays every down at 110 percent, is a mentality I like to see on a football team. He’d instantly become a fan favorite the first time he threw a block to spring LeSean McCoy on a run. If you can deal with his tendency to drift into pressure in the pocket, you’ll enjoy watching Mayfield play on Sundays.
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