Baker Mayfield doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a player but PFF notices his work. That’s why he joins two of his Cleveland Browns teammates on their ‘All-Underrated Team’
Even after leading his team to an 11-5 record and a win in the playoffs, Baker Mayfield has yet to get the national credit he deserves. He’s made huge strides in turning the Cleveland Browns into contenders but still hasn’t convinced everyone that he’s a franchise quarterback.
Even with some claiming the team is winning in spite of him, rather than due to his leadership, the crew at Pro Football Focus has included him on their 2021 ‘All-Underrated Team’ where he joins two of his teammates.
In addition to Mayfield, the Browns had starting right guard Wyatt Teller and newly signed safety John Johnson III on the list.
Why Baker Mayfield is underrated
There’s this really dumb myth being thrown around that Baker Mayfield is a system quarterback and his play with Kevin Stefanski calling the shots is helping him look better than he actually is.
Let’s just really dig into how flawed this theory is. First off, there isn’t a quarterback in the NFL who isn’t a “system quarterback.” Sure, some can work in more than one system but none can be placed into any offensive scheme and succeed.
For instance, Lamar Jackson won an NFL MVP running the Baltimore offense which has been tailored to his strengths. He works in the pistol and shotgun nearly exclusively and runs more than a running back.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, is a pocket passer. He’s not a mobile player by any means and he works methodically down the field by taking advantage of one matchup after another. Yes, he’s a great athlete who can throw the ball incredibly well but he wins by outsmarting the opponent.
Each quarterback excels and has the hardware to prove they’re legit but if you put them in each other’s system, they would be terribe. So the idea that Mayfield is only working well because of Stefanski is short-sighted.
Does Stefanski help? Yes. Does he put Mayfield in a position to succeed? Yes. That’s what good coaches do, but in the end, it’s the quarterback making the throws and no amount of coaching will turn a guy like me into a solid NFL quarterback.
So let’s try and give Mayfield the credit he deserves, which is exactly what Anthony Treash did in his ‘All-Underrated Team’ where he says Mayfield could become a top-10 quarterback due to his partnership with Stefanski.
"“From Week 7 through the postseason of last year, Mayfield ranked second among quarterbacks in passing grade (91.8), fifth in big-time throw rate (6.6%) and first in turnover-worthy play rate (1.6%). The Browns quarterback and head coach Kevin Stefanski were clicking on all cylinders in 2020, and Year 2 of the partnership could cement Mayfield’s standing as a top-10 quarterback.” — Treash, PFF"
Mayfield has also overcome a lot in his short career. He has been moved from one coaching staff to another and now that he enters year four, he finally will be in the same offense for the first time in his career.
That will lead to more people claiming he’s only succeeding because of Stefanski but don’t fall into that trap. Baker is a leader and one of the most accurate passers in the game. And he will again show that off this season.
Why Wyatt Teller is underrated
In addition to Baker Mayfield, Wyatt Teller also made the list. The former Buffalo Bills guard blew away all expectations last year and earned a 93.6 grade in run blocking, which is the second-best by a guard in a decade according to Treash.
He’s one of the many players in Cleveland ready for a new deal and when he does land an extension, it’s going to be a big one. And he will have earned every penny.
Why John Johnson is underrated
Lastly, there was safety John Johnson III, who was called the “fifth-most valuable defensive player in the NFL” by Treash. He joined Cleveland in the offseason after four years with the Los Angeles Rams.
His deal is a bargain compared to what players such as Jamal Adams and Harrison Smith just signed and he’s still in the same ballpark when it comes to talent.
Johnson is going to help this defense turn things around and before long, he and his two teammates on this list will prove that they should be getting much more credit than they have been.