2. Baker Mayfield’s progression as a leader
Anyone who watched Baker Mayfield play at Oklahoma had to know he could sling it. That doesn’t mean he was a sure-fire pick at No. 1 as many seemed to prefer the more traditional Sam Darnold out of USC. While Darnold had the desired height and Mayfield didn’t, there was also the fact that Mayfield had some questions about his maturity.
There was a video released that saw him trying to run from police when he was arrested for public intoxication. On top of that, Mayfield was criticized for antics during the game which included him taunting opponents and planting a flag midfield during a road game at Ohio State.
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Make no mistake, Mayfield isn’t your cookie cutter quarterback. He doesn’t always say the right things and some members of the media don’t like this — one great example was when he called Hue Jackson “fake” after the Browns beat their former head coach who had joined the Cincinnati Bengals as a special assistant (whatever that meant).
As much as it bothered some, Mayfield really was a breath of fresh air. There are already countless quarterbacks who give boring and scripted answers to every question, but Mayfield is just genuinely being himself. Not only that, but he proved to be a fantastic leader on the field for the Browns. His teammates all believed in him and raised their level of play the second he stepped on the field.
Heading into his sophomore campaign, it will be interesting to see how much more clout he has with this team. No longer a rookie trying to win over a coach that is trying to hold him back, Mayfield is the unquestioned starter. He also has a head coach who wants him to succeed in Freddie Kitchens.
Baker is the franchise quarterback Cleveland has needed for years. They will go as far as he does and this season we could see a big leap for him now that he has the reins and a full season under his belt.