Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield may only be entering his sophomore season, but he is already seen as one of the best signal callers in the league.
At this time last year, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was expected to sit the entire 2018 season behind veteran Tyrod Taylor. The goal was to help Mayfield prepare for the NFL and for him to be ready to take over the starting quarterback duties in 2019.
But after Taylor struggled in two and a half games with the Browns, Mayfield burst onto the scene and changed the entire perception around the Cleveland Browns in one season. He played well enough in his rookie season that he had the Browns in the playoff hunt until the final two weeks of the season.
Mayfield’s play in 2019 would typically be rewarded with Rookie of the Year honors, but the player picked behind him in the 2018 NFL Draft, Saquon Barkley, had an even better rookie season. In 14 games, Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
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But even though Mayfield did not win the Rookie of the Year award last season and could not push the Browns into the playoffs, he is already being viewed as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks in the league for the 2019 season, splitting them into eight different tiers. Mayfield was ranked as the ninth best quarterback in the NFL, landing in the second tier.
"“This is not just more Cleveland hype for 2019. Mayfield put together a terrific rookie season, one that could have been even better had Hue Jackson allowed him to compete for the job in the preseason, or had Freddie Kitchens been coaching him all the way. Now Kitchens is doing just that, and Mayfield has an elite No. 1 wideout in Odell Beckham Jr.” – Iyer, Sporting News"
Mayfield was ranked as the best quarterback in the AFC North with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being ranked right behind Mayfield. But with Roethlisberger in the final years of his career, it is obvious Mayfield is the next best quarterback in the division and will soon be the player the other three teams in the division will have to beat to be crowned AFC North champions.
What made Mayfield so good when under center for the Browns offense last season was elevating the talent around him. The Browns did not have the best wide receiver corps in the league last season, but Mayfield’s ability to put the ball exactly where it needed to be when it needed to be there helped push the Browns passing offense.
But with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. to the receiving corps, Mayfield will have the weapons on the field next season to help take his performance to the next level. And if he can do that next season, there is a good chance Baker Mayfield will be viewed as one of the top-tier quarterbacks in 2020.