Why Baker Mayfield would be very hard to replace

Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks to throw during warmups before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks to throw during warmups before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns may be much harder to replace than his detractors believe.

The Cleveland Browns have their ups and downs with Baker Mayfield, but letting him go and replacing him via the draft might be a 10-year process to get a quarterback who is a consistent top 10 NFL quarterback.

If you take the position that Mayfield is about the 10th best quarterback in the NFL, and players of his ability have careers of about 10 years on average, then there can only be an average of one quarterback entering the league per year at this level. Just make your own list of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL, and see how many years they have been around. The average career is quite long. They don’t come along all the time.

If you stop and think about the numbers, in the past 10 years, NFL teams drafted 115 quarterbacks, 33 of whom were first-rounders, according to Pro Football Reference. There couldn’t possibly be 33 quarterbacks who could become top 10 quarterbacks who have10 year careers. There’s only room for at most 10, and with Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Derek Carr around, the real number is around six.

These four came from outside the first round. That is, the league batting average is six for 33 (.182) in the first round, and four for 82 (.049) outside the first round.

So how can anybody be so naive to think that top 10 quarterbacks can be so easily acquired?

Fans are fanatics by definition, but sportswriters should know better, and general managers are blowing millions of dollars based on horrible decision-making processes. These delusions have real and disastrous consequences. Get ahold of yourselves, you owners, and general managers.  There’s no easy path to get a top 10 quarterback.

We can hook you up with a top 40 quarterback, but that’s not what we were talking about. Remember, we were trying to follow the advice of the Mayfield critics and send the lad back to Lake Travis, Texas and replace him with someone who is distinctly better, someone who is at least top 10 if not MVP class.

In the 2021 draft, we saw one of the worst cases ever of greedy teams trying to move up and draft quarterbacks with very little experience, thinking that if they were drafted higher it would propel their ability level higher.  Well, it remains to be seen how this will play out, but the early returns are not good. Just because there were five quarterbacks drafted in the first round doesn’t mean there are going to be five quarterbacks who became perennial top 10 quarterbacks.

If you agree with this fan’s assessment that Baker Mayfield is the 10th best quarterback in the NFL, it’s tempting to think that the team should simply let him walk, bundle some draft picks, trade up and draft a new quarterback, and voila!  A new quarterback! Yee-hah! Good riddance, Mayfield!

The problem is that most of these first-round quarterbacks are punks and are not actually better than Baker Mayfield. Common sense should tell you that there cannot possibly be a huge supply of top 10 quarterbacks lurking in every draft as sportswriters would have you believe.

Otherwise, if the NFL is drafting three “franchise quarterbacks” per draft and they have 10-year careers, within ten years there would be 30 quarterbacks in the top 10. That obviously makes no sense. Come on, man!

The real number, as pointed out above, is about six first-round picks actually make it as top 10 quarterbacks. 82% of these first-round quarterbacks will fall short. They might be starters or useful backups, but they are not really going to be in the top 10.  In other words, an average NFL team gets a legit top 10 quarterback (i.e., distinctly better than Mayfield) not every time it drafts a quarterback in the first round, but maybe one time out of five.

If the Browns start blowing one first-round draft pick every two years, it will probably take an average of 10 years to get the right guy. Even then, the rest of the team will be so depleted of talent, it may be impossible to tell whether the guy is any good or not.

Historically, the Browns have been guilty of being obsessed with quarterbacks and piling on draft picks and free-agent resources on quarterbacks year after year while neglecting all other phases of playing football. That’s the same pattern as a heroin addict getting a fix. To get well, the addict has to break the cycle and build other parts of the team, not just quarterbacks. The Browns have been sober for a year or two, let’s not give up now.

If Cleveland wants to improve its team, shouldn’t they replace the parts that are actually broken? The most obvious need exists at defensive end, because Jadeveon Clowney is not under contract and even if he is re-signed, he is not an every-down player. The Browns will also need to replace Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry (who will be cut unless he agrees to restructure his deal).

You never have enough defensive backs in today’s NFL. That pretty much takes care of the first two or three rounds before developmental quarterbacks start looking like a good thing.

Alternatively, blowing first-round draft picks on under-experienced quarterbacks seems like a great way to finish last in the AFC North.

There are a number of quarterback connoisseurs in the national and Cleveland media who have made the brilliant observation that Baker Mayfield is not going into the Hall of Fame, and is not elite. Well, so what? Now that you geniuses have made this observation, what will you do about it? That doesn’t automatically translate into a brilliant draft strategy to acquire a vastly more talented quarterback.

Besides, this is not Baker Mayfield’s team, it’s Nick Chubb‘s. The Browns should be building their offense around the running game with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and maybe a dash or two of D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton. They should set a go of rushing the ball for 3,000 yards.  Maybe then we can shut up about drafting new quarterbacks, sign the one we have, and move forward.

Next. Browns pass blocking is brutal, Mayfield may not survive. dark

No more one-handed catches, just build the number one rushing attack in the NFL, the number one defense in the NFL, live with the 10th-best quarterback and see if that isn’t good enough to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. But let’s not fragment the rest of the team in order to satisfy the long-term addiction to drafting mediocre quarterbacks, because it is a waste of time, talent, and money.