The Cleveland Browns cleaned the cupboards in the quarterback room this offseason, trading all three quarterbacks who were on the roster last season and then proceeding to trade for, draft, and sign three new participants.
The team gave up a third-round pick prior to the draft to add Tyrod Taylor, whom they continue to maintain will be their starter this season, but both he and the team’s future, Baker Mayfield, showed positive signs in their first preseason game last night.
Taylor participated in the Brown’s first two drives and he came away with a perfect passer rating, completing five of five pass attempts for 99 yards and a touchdown. He started with a 32-yard pass to Jarvis Landry and ended the day with a 36-yard touchdown to second-year tight end David Njoku.
But Taylor wasn’t the only one to find the talented tight end in the end zone. Mayfield also completed a 10-yard pass for a score to Njoku, one of two touchdowns that he had on the night. He also had a 54-yard catch-and-run score to fellow rookie Antonio Callaway.
In all, he only completed 11 of his 20 pass attempts, but two went for touchdowns, and he averaged 21.2 yards per attempt for 212 total passing yards. Among the highlights of his performance were key conversions on third and fourth down, including a third and 17.
The other quarterback, Drew Stanton, did not seem to play in the game, but he is a long-time veteran who doesn’t necessarily need the work. Rookie Brogan Roback cleaned up the game, attempting four passes and completing two, while keeping the group’s turnover sheet clean with no interceptions nor fumbles.
One rookie who did not have the sort of debut he hoped for was second-round pick Nick Chubb, who rushed for just 11 yards in spite of the fact that he was given 15 attempts. He did have a 12-yard reception, but it’s generally not very good when you average under a yard per rushing attempt.
Speaking of rushing, Mayfield did add 13 yards with his legs on three carries, which included a six-yard scramble on third and six for one of the aforementioned key conversions.
The Steelers have grown accustomed to playing different quarterbacks when they play the Browns. They are guaranteed to do so once again this year during their season opener, considering that they haven’t retained any of the passers from last year’s roster. There’s a reasonable chance they might even face two new quarterbacks.
That could depend upon how quickly Mayfield develops. While Hue Jackson how vowed to be patient with the rookie’s development, it would be hard to keep him off the field if he is actually playing well when he is clearly your future.