Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield at top of 2018 quarterback class

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 17: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass while pursued by Julian Stanford #51 of the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 17, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 17: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass while pursued by Julian Stanford #51 of the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 17, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Following two preseason games, Baker Mayfield has begun to show why he was deserving of the first-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

I have been aboard the Baker Mayfield hype-train since shortly after the Oklahoma flag was perched in the center of the Shoe at Ohio State. Although the Buckeye in my blood was reeling, the realization hit me — that attitude and energy is exactly what the Cleveland Browns needed.

In the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, I did my homework on each and every available quarterback prospect. Time and time again, Mayfield appeared better suited than the rest. I will admit, Josh Allen’s rocket-launcher was intriguing and all the hype on Darnold forced me to take a long hard look.

As I detailed in my piece — comparison shows one quarterback at the top — there were strong downsides to each of the top prospects: Darnold’s turnovers, Allen’s injury history and completion percentage, Darnold’s turnovers, Rosen’s attitude and Darnold’s turnovers.

The only claim of a downside for Mayfield was his height, and the ridiculous comparisons to a former Brown that isn’t worth the mention. Now, merely two weeks into the preseason, both are non-issues. I couldn’t help but laugh watching Darnold get a ball swatted down and still waiting to see the too-short Mayfield have any struggles whatsoever.

So, as I mentioned, my mind was made up long ago. Following the draft, many fans also began looking closer at Mayfield. It is easy to hone in on a specific player you like and not openly consider others, as was the case with fan-favorite Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

Perhaps I should mention that I was not alone in liking Mayfield as early as I did. I am not a genius-guru that can foresee greatness above all others. While I won’t stop you from labeling me as such, many throughout the media and fans alike have been sold on Mayfield for a long time. Now that fans have looked closer at Mayfield they have seen what I did — and it didn’t take long for them either.

Now that we have seen all the prospects in action, albeit a little amount and during preseason play, we can get a better understanding of how each of these young men handle themselves and the football. I still have the Mayfield head and shoulders above the rest, as he seems to have something special. With that said, there appear to be several very good quarterbacks in this class.

In the article mentioned earlier, I wrote about each top prospect and the flaws that allowed Mayfield to stand out as a better option. Having seen them all play I will add a few thoughts on them.

Sam Darnold

I never said he wasn’t going to be good, and I am glad I didn’t. I am surprised to see he has been holding onto the ball very well, mostly. In my count, I have seen only one fumble, which went out of bounds before becoming a turnover, and the one interception, which was not a dagger turnover by any means. Things like that can improve with coaching, dedication and time and it seems young Darnold is working on it.

I am eager to see what he can down the field. While we have seen some, the majority of his work has been the dink-and-dunk variety. Unfortunately, the re-emergence of Teddy Bridgewater may keep that from happening. From what we saw in preseason Week 2, Bridgewater was far superior on the field.

Josh Allen

He has the type of arm that makes you wonder how many receiver’s bones he has broken. While that is certainly impressive, can he take a little off of it when needed? I haven’t seen it yet. If they find guys that can catch a rocket by the tail he may not need to.

Allen indeed looked very good against the Browns and, with AJ McCarron breaking a collarbone, he will likely be the first in the 2018 class to become a full-time starter. Honestly, I think he was on his way to the gig even without McCarron’s injury. He looked poised, had good footwork and appeared more accurate as well.

It is odd that McCarron broke a collarbone of all things, as my initial concerns for Allen were his accuracy and his two previous broken collarbone injuries.

Josh Rosen

Rosen offers a great skill-set and can make all the throws when given time. He has, however, struggled under pressure and has seen a lot of it. When defenders get ahold of him, he opts to fling the ball away rather than take a sack. That is not wise in the NFL and will certainly provide many more negative plays than positive ones. To me, it raises serious concerns about his decision-making under duress.

Rosen also had several throws that should have been easy interceptions and has shown he needs to adjust to the speed of NFL defenders. I must also mention the fact that he too has already had a ball swatted back — if only he were Mayfield’s height.

Lamar Jackson

The hype is accurate, Jackson is pure lightning, with one exception — lightning doesn’t get pummeled. He still needs to fine-tune several aspects of his game, but if he can stay healthy, he will hand out nightmares with his athleticism alone. If not, he may follow the path of his new mentor in Baltimore, RGIII.

Mason Rudolph

I still like Rudolph, even though I would rather see him anywhere outside the AFC North. Week 2 of the preseason brought him his first start and, well, he needs more time. I will be kind and leave it at that.

NFL Preseason: Winners and losers from Week 2. dark. Next

In summary

Allen looks the part of an NFL quarterback. Darnold and Rosen look as if they will be if they can keep their flaws at bay when the pressure is on. Jackson is a wild card with absurd physical abilities and Rudolph has some work to do.

Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, has shown phenomenal poise, footwork and accuracy. A review of the film offers the same outlook as it did months ago and his height is a non-issue. Mayfield appears, at least in the early stages, like a superstar in the making.