It’s no secret that the national perception of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has drastically improved over the course of the college football season, and for good reason. His stock is on the rise so much so, in fact, that he’s now being considered one of the top quarterback prospects in next year’s draft. And why wouldn’t he be?
He possesses tremendous arm talent and underrated arm strength, nimble feet and great vision. The combination of these skills has led to Mayfield becoming the ONLY player in FBS history to record at least 13,500 yards passing while rushing for an addition 1,000+. All of that in just over 3 seasons (he played about half of his freshman season at Texas Tech before sustaining an injury).
Still not convinced? No worries, I’ve got more. Mayfield has thrown for 3,559 yards this season, completing passes at a clip of 71.2%. He has 31 touchdown passes against 5 interceptions and an efficiency rating of 202.1. I’ll say that again. He has an efficiency rating of 202.1. Do you realize the significance of that number? The current All Time rating for efficiency is 196.3 -which Baker set last year. The dude is crushing his own All Time record with four games (at least) left to play. And now, with Oklahoma fourth in the CFP rankings, Oklahoma looks to be headed back to the College Football Playoff and therefore a legitimate threat to go back to the College Football Playoff Championship Game for the first time (first national title game appearance since 2009).
As mentioned before, Mayfield has great feet, and decent speed, but he doesn’t look to throw. He’s not, no matter how badly people may want him to be, Johnny Manziel -and I mean that as a compliment. Manziel was undoubtedly a wildly talented athlete, but he made his money, so to speak, by dropping back, making one or two quick reads, and then taking off with his feet. When paired with pretty solid accuracy and a big arm, he could run roughshod over most of college football. But Baker is not only a more accurate passer, but one who only runs if he has to. Mayfield’s improvisation looks to extend plays, not just run for the chains. His eyes remain upfield and his arm can place it on the money forty-plus yards downfield at a moment’s notice. He also has all of the throws in between. That’s the kind of talent that can translate in the right situation at the next level.
So who might be interested in Baker at the next level you ask?
A few teams as it turns out. The New Orleans Saints could be a solid fit, given their familiarity with an undersized, albeit cerebral Hall-of-Fame-to-be signal caller in Drew Brees. What’s more, the Saints have a deceivingly good defense and a plethora of weapons throughout the offense. Such a system would allow Baker the sit back and learn for a year or so before potentially accepting the reigns for the starting job.
Another potential destination is the New York Giants. It’s no secret Eli Manning is nearing the end of the line, and if you ask many around the league, he’s pretty much already there. The problem with New York is that while it would most likely include great weapons in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and one of Mayfield’s former teammates and friends at Oklahoma, Sterling Shepard. What it doesn’t have is a head coach or, depending on who you ask, a GM who are likely to survive the offseason with the team, or an inspired defense. Oh yeah, and they happen to feature one of the worst offensive lines in football, which would more than likely result in Mayfield being crushed before a capable line could be built. In short, for Baker’s sake, hopefully this one doesn’t happen.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably know where I think Baker Mayfield should end up, and frankly I think it’s a no-brainer. Everybody and their grandmother seems to know the Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t been pleased with the development of incumbent quarterback, Blake Bortles, and for good reason. For his career, Bortles has 13,171 passing yards on 58.8% completion, resulting in 80 touchdowns against 58 interceptions. For a guy in his fourth year, ignoring the fact his own coach “opened up” the quarterback competition in training camp due to ongoing frustrations, that’s still not horrible, right?
Wellllll, if you look at the stats, the vast majority of those numbers have come in garbage time. In fact, if you dig deeper on that line of thinking, you find that over the past two seasons Bortles has been the all-time king of garbage time stat-padding. For those checking out the box score, that can be covered up. But should you actually watch the Jags play, you’ll see for yourself how he’s performed when the game actually mattered or was close.
Jacksonville has the defense to rock the league, and they’re already doing it now. What’s more, they have major weapons at wide receiver, including another Mayfield stud teammate, Dede Westbrook. Add to that the drafting of Leonard Fournette in last year’s draft at number 4 and the only thing that seems to be missing and potentially holding back the Jags is a capable quarterback.
After years of meandering and bottom-feeding in the NFL, Jacksonville doesn’t just need a guy who can put up touchdowns and yards. They need a leader with some swagger. Enter Baker Mayfield.
The fit is undeniable, and for a franchise with such a limited history of quality QBs, Mayfield could become the face of the franchise in need of that one final, big, piece.