By Michael Kinney
Baker Mayfield has made it a habit of proving people wrong. Whether it was in high school or even on the college level, whenever someone has said the former Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t good enough to do something, he found a way to prove them wrong.
That Manifest Destiney type attitude was on display Thursday night when Mayfield was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL draft.
Instead of attending the draft, Mayfield was at his home in Austin, TX. Surrounded by family and friends when he got the call that he had been waiting his whole life to get.
“Been a long journey to get here; a lot of work,” Mayfield. “So when I’m sitting there on the couch (for the draft), the thoughts running through my head as I start looking around at everybody in the room, a bunch of different people who have been there at different stages of my life. From the very beginning, obviously, my immediate family, then the friends and coaches and people who have helped shape me. It was everybody that was a part of the whole process.”
Mayfield became the fourth Sooner to ever be taken first in the NBA Draft. It’s a list that includes Lee Roy Selmon, Billy Simms and Sam Bradford.
However, while the previous three seemed to be sure choices, Mayfield was far from it. Many analysts had him going anywhere from No. 3 to the Jets or falling out of the top 10. The latter was something Mayfield scoffed at in interviews leading up to the draft.
Mayfield’s height, 6-0, was a major concern many thought would prevent him from being the first quarterback taken. The prevailing theory was that a team couldn’t take a chance on a shorter quarterback with that early of a pick.
However, the Browns saw past the stature and saw the other ingredients Mayfield brings to not only the position but also a team.
“I think with Baker Mayfield, what we have is a guy who we talked about who wins the game of football, is-ultra competitive and is revered by his teammates and anybody who has ever been around him,” Cleveland General Manager John Dorsey said. “This is a guy that has earned everything he has ever had from high school to college and now up here. He is a winner. He is competitive. He really is.”
Mayfield’s newest head coach, Hue Jackson, echoed Dorsey’s sentiments.
“Here is a guy that wins football games, tremendous accuracy,” Jackson said. “Obviously, the guy was the best college quarterback this year by far in our opinion. Going through our process and meeting with him, spending time with him, putting him on the board, digging into everything about Baker, we feel very comfortable as a coaching staff and as a personnel staff that this was the guy for us.”
Jackson is also a fan of the attitude Mayfield carries with him onto the field.
“This guy has a chip on his shoulder. I think we all know that because I think that he has a burning desire to be the best,” Jackson said. “I think what I saw from him was a guy who is a leader of men, and I think that is very important. He gets his teammates to play at a whole different level. I think that was seen at Oklahoma, and I expect him to do that here. He has got to earn the right to do that, and I think that he understands that.”
Dorsey also said Mayfield was thoroughly vetted and was not concerned about off the field issues that have taken place.
“First off, my faith says that every man may deserve a second chance. Have you ever been 19 before? Have you ever been 20 before? Young men do certain things, and you know what? They learn from that. They will learn from that. I like the guy. He is very mature,” Dorsey said. “He is very smart. I bet you that we all learn from our mistakes. I have learned from my mistakes in the past, too. I am better today than I was a year ago. I have no problems with a young man being allowed to understand the mistakes he makes, and let’s move forward. Let’s move forward and let’s not do it again. That is how I look at it.”
According to Oklahoma, Mayfield became the 84th Sooner to be drafted since. Oklahoma is the lone program to produce two quarterbacks this millennium who were picked No. 1 overall, and the only program since the 1940s to produce two No. 1 QB picks in a 10-year period. It is also one of just six schools to have at least four former players go No. 1 overall.
“It’s an emotional night,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “Baker’s been through a lot and this is a great night for him and for his family. You look at where he started and how he was overlooked a lot his life but continued to believe in himself, continued to fight. Having a front-row seat to his journey the last three years, it’s really unbelievable. He’s believed in himself the whole way, and that shows you how important that is.”
Riley and former OU coach Bob Stoops were with Mayfield when he was drafted. Both said the Brows are getting a franchise changing player.
“This is what should have happened for him. He’s the best player out there,” Stoops said. “What he did for us — just go back. The last three years have been magical. What he did in my last two years with the two Big 12 championships, the leadership, the toughness and everything else, I don’t know that I’ve ever had anyone like him. He earned everything he got, and to finish his career the last two years by setting the NCAA pass efficiency record both seasons is just incredible. What an exceptional player and story. So happy for him.”
The Browns have been the doormat of the NFL for years. They have a myriad of starting quarterbacks go down in flames trying to guide the hapless team.
Mayfield doesn’t seem to be worried about what happened before he heard his name called Thursday.
“I’m excited,” Mayfield said. “I said it at the (NFL) combine; I’d love to be the guy to help turn them around and I think if anybody’s going to do it it’s going to be me. It starts in the locker room, it starts leadership wise with your teammates; changing the culture, installing a belief with everybody else. They have all the tools and the pieces. Let’s just make it happen now.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with EyeAmTruth.com