Don’t believe everything you read about Baker Mayfield, especially the negative stuff, because a lot of it is probably false and purely mythical.
One thing about Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, he generates a lot of press. The fan base is overwhelmingly behind Mayfield, and rightly so. He has led a resurgent Browns team and guided the team to its first playoff win since the Bill Belichick days. He’s already a hero of unimaginable proportions. Almost all Browns fans realize this already.
However, there is a small, possibly delusional minority who seems to think that the Browns need to trade him for Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers or some other equally far-fetched scenario. These people probably play fantasy football and don’t realize that it takes years to build up a relationship between a quarterback and a team, and you do not just throw that away. Even Tom Brady struggled with Tampa Bay until very late in the season last year.
At the national media level, the picture is more divided. Most of the sane media believe, as a minimum, that Mayfield is the first string quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, and that he has improved year-to-year. There is no serious quarterback controversy. In fact, it is going to be very difficult for anyone to dislodge Case Keenum as the second string quarterback.
The Cleveland quarterback position is about as free from controversy as any position could be in the NFL.
Nevertheless there is a cadre of conspiracy theorists eager to promote theories that Baker Mayfield has all sorts of secret weaknesses that only brainy football connoisseurs can be aware of. National sportswriters can apparently make a decent living criticizing Mayfield by creating negative myths about him.
It’s less lucrative to defend him from these myths, but nevertheless, it’s our calling to do so. DPD could probably choose about 50 myths, but for now we have narrowed it down to only five.
Let’s start with an easy one. Does Baker Mayfield have a sub-par NFL arm?
Myth No. 5: Baker Mayfield has a weak arm
This is one of the dumbest, laziest anti-Baker narratives out there because it is completely untrue and provably false.
This narrative originated from places like the following trusted internet scouting report from Walter Football in the 2018 draft, which reads as follows:
"“Mayfield doesn’t have a strong arm, but it is good enough to make the throws required in the NFL. One of his most impressive strengths as a passer is being able to locate the ball well and throw receivers open.” — Charlie Campbell, Walter Football"
It’s not an uncomplimentary narrative. What the reviewer is saying is that Mayfield is accurate enough to place the ball where the receiver can go after it but the defender cannot reach it. But the arm strength is definitely questioned, though politely as possible.
So let’s answer that question with another question. How does anyone throw a football over 70 yards through the air, the longest pass ever observed in an NFL game, with a weak arm? This is simply not possible.
As a point of reference, the NFL used to have a Quarterback Challenge show in which the NFL quarterbacks participated in different contests including a contest to see who could throw a football the farthest. In 2003, Tom Brady won it with a heave of 62 yards. In 1999, Brett Favre won with a monstrous bomb of 75 yards.
If Mayfield can throw the ball more than 70 yards in the air during an actual game — essentially the same distance as Brett Favre in his prime — how much farther does he actually have to throw it before his critics will admit that maybe he does not have such a weak arm after all? What exactly do you want to see, you quarterback connoisseurs? You are simply arguing something that is not possible.
At the Combine, not every quarterback is subjected to the radar gun in order to measure the maximum ball velocity. It isn’t clear to what extent the entire setup is calibrated or reproducible. I’m sure the people who administer the test do the best that they can, but they do not seem to have a rigid, formalized procedure that could be duplicated by researchers around the country via standards approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International or other professional standard organization.
So, while on the one hand confessing that there are misgivings about the radar gun accuracy, on the other hand, of those quarterbacks who have thrown against the radar gun, Josh Allen is the unofficial record holder at 62 mph. Number two is a three-way tie at 60 mph between Logan Thomas (who eventually became a pretty good tight end), Bryan Bennett from Southeastern Louisiana…and Baker Mayfield. How can you have the second fastest passing velocity in the history of the Combine and have a weak arm? This also is simply not possible.
Within the AFC North, you can go back and watch Big Ben’s Hail Mary passes in the Steeler loss to Washington and realize he has nowhere near the cannon that Mayfield has. Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson also can bring the heat when they need to, although neither quarterback matched Mayfield’s radar gun velocity at the Combine, and this writer is not aware of any film evidence of either quarterback having thrown a football over 70 yards. A younger Roethlisberger, in the pre-bionic elbow days, was in that class however.
So does Mayfield have the strongest arm in football? Probably that honor belongs to Josh Allen throwing from the pocket. Via eyeball test, Patrick Mahomes has the strongest arm throwing sidearm while being tackled and falling down. Nobody else, not even Allen, seems to be able to throw so accurately with ridiculous arm angles, behind his back or whatever. He is able to do it with just his arm, apparently. But Mayfield is in the top tier.