Will Baker Mayfield play up to his draft status in the 2020 NFL season?
2020 is the most important year of Baker Mayfield‘s football life.
The Cleveland Browns starting quarterback needs to play like he did when he was the No. 1 pick coming out of Oklahoma in 2018. Though it’s not his fault that former Browns general manager and sweatshirt enthusiast John Dorsey used the No. 1 overall pick on him. However, Mayfield was selected to be the heir apparent to Bernie Kosar, a vacancy that has not been appropriately filled in decades.
While at Oklahoma, Mayfield guided the Sooners to three-straight Big 12 Championships, two trips to the College Football Playoff and brought the 2017 Heisman Trophy back to Norman. Forever playing with a chip on his shoulder, Mayfield seemed like an ideal personality fit for the underdog Browns, as he could be the catalyst to help them overcome their perpetual culture of suck.
Despite having a phenomenal rookie year, Mayfield has shown he can really beat the toothless Cincinnati Bengals in his NFL career and that’s been about it. Former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum said on ESPN’s Get Up Friday that he expects the Browns to have their face of the franchise on a tight leash in 2020. Mayfield’s margin for error in year three is razor-thin.
If Mayfield plays like we all know he can, he’ll get that fifth-year option from new general manager Andrew Berry. Mayfield and his representation could begin to work with Berry on a long-term extension. But should Mayfield falter, 2021 may very well be the last year he’s on the Browns roster. He has to turn things around in Cleveland, but there is a strong sense he absolutely will.
Here is why Baker Mayfield will turn it around for the Cleveland Browns.
5. His NFL prototype Case Keenum is his backup, and that matters a ton.
While you weren’t paying attention in quarantine, this offseason the Browns added Case Keenum, the closest NFL approximation to Mayfield on Cleveland’s roster. Though Mayfield has said he’s some combination of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, he’s really a better version of Keenum. That’s not disparaging of Mayfield, as Keenum won a ton of games and was a star in college at Houston.
Both signal-callers are undersized but are known for their accuracy and abilities to thrive in winning time. Nobody threw for more yards in college football history than Keenum with the Houston Cougars. He also was the quarterback of 2017 Minnesota Vikings who went 13-3 and Minneapolis Miracle-d the hell out of Brees’ Saints in the NFC Divisional round.
You know who was on that Vikings coaching staff three years ago? Browns’ first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. He saw first-hand was solid quarterback play can do on a loaded roster. Minnesota nearly went to the Super Bowl for the first time since Fran Tarkenton was scrambling for his life behind a porous offensive line in the freezing cold in the 1970s. Keenum can win.
So if Mayfield decides he needs to pick up the slack in the Heisman Trophy interception club now that Jameis Winston is eating W’s on the Saints bench, Stefanski will have no qualms over benching the former No. 1 pick in favor of Mr. Minneapolis Miracle. You know that Spiderman meme where they’re pointing at each other? That’s Mayfield and Keenum to some extent.