Did The Browns Make The Right Decision At Number 1?

Connor Casne-Jones, Head writer

The Browns began the 2018 draft with a bang!  They surprisingly drafted Baker Mayfield, the 6’1″, 215 pound quarterback out of Oklahoma. Mayfield is the first number one overall draft pick to be a walk-on.  A walk- on is a player that did not receive a college scholarship to the school they went to and instead were forced to try-out for the team.  Baker Mayfield did this not only once but twice in his short college football career.   

Baker Mayfield has had an unorthodox path to the NFL.  He went to Austin Lake Travis Highschool in Texas.  He became the starting quarterback for the team as a junior but was injured most of that year. The next year, however, he won the 4A state championship and threw for 6,255 yards and 67 touchdowns with 8 interceptions.  Despite his amazing senior year of high school, Baker Mayfield was only a three-star recruit and did not receive even one offer to play for a large, division one school. 

After high school, Baker Mayfield decided to walk-on at Texas Tech. Due to an injury to the starting quarterback, Baker was the first-ever walk-on freshman quarterback to start a season opener. Baker’s season with Texas Tech ended early due to injury.  Despite getting the Big 12 freshmen-of-the-year award, Texas Tech brought in another player, Davis Webb, to be the new starting quarterback. Baker took this as an insult and transferred to the University of Oklahoma and walked-on for the second time. 

What happened next ended with a rule being made by the NCAA. At the time, when a player transferred after one year at a university to another division one, four-year university, he or she lost an entire year of eligibility and would have to sit out for a year. Baker Mayfield argued that because he was a walk-on player and not a scholarship athlete that he shouldn’t lose one year of eligibility. Although his motion was denied by the NCAA and he had to sit out the entire 2014 season, in 2016 the Big 12 made a series of rules that allowed Baker Mayfield and other walk-on athletes to transfer schools within conference and not be penalized by having to sit-out a season and losing a year of eligibility. This rule has been dubbed the “Baker Mayfield Rule.” It allowed Baker to play the 2017 football season for the University of Oklahoma. 

In the 2015 season, Baker Mayfield’s first year for Oklahoma, he started for all thirteen football games. He threw for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. He ran for another 405 yards and had 7 personal touchdowns.  He also won some awards that season: the “Sporting News Player of the Year” award, the “Burlsworth Trophy,” and the “Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.” Also, he was a first-team All-American and a first-team All-Big 12.  Mayfield was also nominated for the Heisman Trophy that year. 

In 2016, when Baker Mayfield received his lost year of eligibility, he added to an already impressive sophomore campaign throwing for nearly 4,000 yards, 40 touchdowns and adding another six on the ground. Despite these stats, this would not prove to be his best season.   

On February 25, 2017, just months before the beginning of the 2017 season, Baker was arrested for public intoxication and fleeing charges.  Many people thought this would be the end for Baker Mayfield. 

Yet, Baker went off in the 2017 season!  He completed 262 passes, throwing for 4340 yards and 41 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions.  He added 311 yards on the ground with 5 touchdowns.  Mayfield had a season QB rating of 198.9, the highest ever in college football history. That year, Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy, was a first-team All-American, and won many other trophies and awards such as the Maxwell and the Walter Camp awards.  

In reality, the 2017 season was not all good for Baker Mayfield. There were many on-field antics that raised some character issues for NFL teams thinking of drafting him.  After beating Ohio State, Mayfield planted a University of Oklahoma Flag right in the middle of the Ohio State field.  Then, when playing Kansas, the Jayhawks refused to shake his hand; he shouted, “F*** You” at the opposing team’s coach and grabbed his crotch.  He also told the opposing team’s fans to go cheer for basketball. 

Despite character issues like Baker’s arrest and performance in Kansas and Ohio State, the Cleveland Browns selected the undersized quarterback number-one over all, and they hope that he can finally be the savior the Browns have been looking for. Did the Browns make the right choice? Only time will tell.