Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is a winner even before he takes the field for the team during his rookie season. Well, the winner of an ESPY, at least, and for his college career. The first-overall draft pick received the ESPY for Best College Athlete on Wednesday night as he prepares to enter his first training camp as a professional.
“What an honor. It feels like the past few months have been three years ever since I played in that Rose Bowl game”, he said as part of his acceptance speech. “I dreamed of playing at Oklahoma. Going there, Coach Stoops and Coach Riley, everybody that helped me out there, you made a dream come true”.
Mayfield, who also won the Heisman Trophy for the 2017 season, is entering training camp with the Browns as the team’s backup quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor, who has been a starter for the Buffalo Bills for the past few seasons, even though he was briefly benched. He began his career with the Baltimore Ravens as Joe Flacco’s backup.
The Browns acquired Taylor, who helped bring Buffalo back to the postseason for the first time this millennium, for a third-round pick, which they sent to the Bills as the new league year began back in March.
They are two of three new quarterbacks on the roster expected to make the team, the other being veteran backup Drew Stanton. Cleveland traded all three of its quarterbacks from last season’s 53-man roster, namely DeShone Kizer, who was their primary starter and a 2017 second-round draft pick; Cody Kessler; and Kevin Hogan.
Though he is the first-overall pick, Head Coach Hue Jackson doesn’t appear to see it in the cards for Mayfield to start as a rookie. He has talked openly about taking lessons away from his experiences forcing rookies to play early over the past two years with Kessler in 2016 and Kizer last season.
As a collegiate player, Mayfield threw for over 14,000 yards and accounted for 152 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 10 yards per pass attempt. It goes without saying that the Browns are depending upon that talent translating to the professional game.
Cleveland had its pick of any quarterback in the draft the organization may have wanted, and five players at the position did end up going in the first round, with Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Lamar Jackson following him. Mason Rudolph was also viewed as a first-round talent, whom the Pittsburgh Steelers selected in the third round.
Three of those six quarterbacks ended up in the AFC North, and though none of them are currently projected to be starters during their rookie season, you can bet that their career trajectories will be compared during every step of the process.