1. Baker Mayfield, Quarterback
Nick Chubb and Austin Hooper aren’t the only players who seem to be poised for huge success in the new Cleveland Browns offense as they’re joined on this list by Baker Mayfield. A former No. 1 overall pick, Mayfield enters his third season in the NFL with a lot to prove. The good news for him is the hiring of Kevin Stefanski was all about Mayfield.
Stefanski has quite the track record which includes finding success with Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins at quarterback. He was Keenum’s position coach when he took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and then when he took over as offensive coordinator for Minnesota, he led Keenum to his best season as a pro —‚ which is also why Keenum is now in Cleveland as one of the better-compensated reserve quarterbacks.
Cousins finished with 3,603 yards with a remarkable 26-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Still, the most important number was 10 — as in the 10 wins compared to just five losses with Cousins as the starter. What Stefanski did to help Cousins was make life easier for him. His zone running game slowed things down and this was evident in his Week 1 stat line that saw Cousins go 8-of-10 passing for 98 yards in a win.
Quality replaced quantity as the Vikings were throwing it less but the impact was much greater when they did throw the ball. That’s why Mayfield is set to really take a step forward with this new coach.
Stefanski will emphasize the run with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt which will open things up for Baker. He also seems far less likely than his predecessor to drop deep in the pocket and throw it 40-yards downfield several plays in a row — which really sets a signal-caller up for failure.
While it’s not ideal that Mayfield is on his fourth coach in three seasons, it’s hard to be upset about this move. Stefanski has what it takes to succeed and these three players, especially the quarterback, are poised for success in his offense.