Why the Cleveland Browns QB situation is best in the AFC North

Oct 18, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) meet at mid-field after a game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) meet at mid-field after a game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
Jan 17, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

4. AFC North QB Arm Strength

Obviously, the quarterback has to have a strong arm. Isn’t it a fact that Baker Mayfield has a weak arm?

That’s what Walter Football claimed in its scouting report: Charlie Campbell, writing for Walter Football, penned the following evaluation, claiming inside information, meaning that his opinion should presumably carry more weight than yours or mine:

"“Mayfield doesn’t have a strong arm, but it is good enough to make the throws required in the NFL….Mayfield is undersized for the NFL with just average arm strength, however. Scouts who saw Mayfield in person already believed he was shorter than his listed height – 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2 -, which is a common, intentionally misleading, yet inexplicable, error by college football programs. Evaluators who saw Mayfield in person were estimating him to be around 5-foot-11 or 6-foot. …They also have concerns that Mayfield beat up on a lot of weak Big XII defenses and feel there is the chance that he gets exposed when he plays NFL defenses. …In speaking to multiple teams, they had second-day grades on Mayfield,” — Charlie Campbell, Walther Football.com"

Ah yes, the old “secret source” trick that knows way more than you or me. Now why are “multiple teams” so eager to tell their top secret plans to Charlie Campbell of Walter Freaking Football?

Browns fans, if you are wondering where these stupid stories about Mayfield originated, here is one of the major sources. They persist to this day.

I’m not accusing Charlie of making things up, but it wouldn’t shock me to learn that some fan of Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen might have somehow duped old Charlie in an attempt to boost the draft stock of their guy by downplaying Mayfield’s value. Come on, man!

Common sense says that there’s no way that persons with actual access to high level NFL personnel office information are going to tell the truth before the draft and reveal their secret evaluations to Charlie. Not even Mel Kiper. Jr. or Adam Schefter get that kind of information, or if they do, it is usually false.

This was just some stupid trick by some fan, hoping that other NFL personnel offices would read it and believe it. Didn’t work though. John Dorsey doesn’t read Walter Football (but he does read Dawg Pound Daily, or at least our sources have said as much).

Demolishing the weak arm argument, Baker Mayfield threw the longest ball ever recorded by Pro Football Focus. He threw a Hail Mary pass more than 70 yards in the air. It’s simply not possible to throw the longest pass ever recorded in a game, with a weak arm.

Some years back, they used to have contests to see which quarterback could throw the ball the farthest. According to Top End Sports, Brett Favre once threw a football measured at 75 yards total distance, under controlled conditions (not in a game). Roethlisberger once had a titanic heave of similar distance for Miami University, but he has significantly less range today. Mayfield is up there with the best ever.

At the combine. Josh Allen has the unofficial radar gun record with 62 mph. Baker Mayfield is tied for second place with 60 mph. Patrick Mahomes must not have been eating his Wheaties (or ketchup) that day because he hit only 55 mph at the Combine, though he has higher numbers elsewhere. Likewise, Lamar Jackson put up an inexplicably slow 49 mph.

Comment — these numbers are so weird that in 2018 I actually called up the guy who reported on the the measurements to question how the measurements were made.

Radar guns were never designed to measure footballs; not designed to deconvolve rotation spin rate versus linear translation versus the parabolic trajectory; the operators were not able to tell me whether the guys pick up the ball at the instant the ball leaves the quarterback’s hand or a split second later (it is known to slow down to due to air friction, so it does matter). In short, they do the best they can, but it is kind of a flaky measurement.

Another set of numbers was provided by Tim Dix, in Medium.com, who bases his numbers on video frame analysis. His numbers tell us that Mahomes and Josh Allen are the strongest arms in the NFL today, with Lamar Jackson at 59 mph and Mayfield at 58 mph.

Joe Burrow is around 56 mph. Ben Roethlisberger’s wounded ducks were not measured, but are probably well under the legal speed limit, probably under the school zone limit. If Pittsburgh fans want to get huffy about it, check out the loss to Washington, when Roethlisberger’s Hail Mary passes were only about 45 yards at the end of the game. Big Ben may still be great, but it’s not because of ball velocity.