Though 2019 will be Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield’s second NFL season, it will be his very first starting under center from Week 1, and on top of that pressure, he faces the high expectations of a hyper loyal Cleveland fan base that is starving for the postseason.
Mayfield willingly took on the challenge of turning around a formerly winless franchise, and with the help of some clever (and seemingly impossible) offseason moves by general manager John Dorsey, Mayfield is right on track to do just that.
The Browns only went 7-8-1 last season, but that was way better than the 0-16 record they posted the prior year and now that Mayfield’s offense (and defensive end Myles Garrett’s defense) is set to win, we take a look at the odds and predictions of Baker’s potential output during the 2019 NFL season.
Quick Bio: who is Baker Mayfield?
Baker Reagan Mayfield is a twenty-four year old NFL quarterback who was born in Austin, Texas in 1995 to Gina and James Mayfield.
Mayfield played quarterback at Lake Travis High School and compiled a 25-2 record over two seasons, his Cavaliers winning the 2011 4A State Championship.
After throwing for 6,255 yards and 67 touchdowns with just 8 interceptions in high school, Mayfield was considered a three-star recruit but received little attention from the big universities.
He decided to try out for the Texas Tech football team and became a walk-on quarterback for the Raiders.
How did Mayfield do at Texas Tech?
Though he only played at Texas Tech for one season, Mayfield became the first ever walk-on true freshman to start a season opener under center at a BCS school.
In an injury shortened 2013, Mayfield threw for 2,315 yards with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in ten games and earned Big 12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year for that season.
Mayfield also became one of the ten finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the top freshman player who played football as a walk-on at a division one school.
Why did Mayfield transfer to Oklahoma?
At the end of the 2013 season, Mayfield announced that he was going to be transferring out of the Texas Tech program due to “miscommunication with the coaching staff,” which boiled down to alleged scholarship issues and unfair competition for a starting spot that Mayfield felt he had already earned.
He immediately enrolled at the college that was his favorite growing up, the University of Oklahoma, where he decided (once again) to try to walk-on to a highly competitive football program.
Though he wasn’t eligible to play until the following season due to Big 12 Conference transfer rules (a decision he appealed and lost but eventually won, see below), Mayfield was named the Sooners’ starting quarterback after legitimately beating out the competition, Trevor Knight, who briefly played for the now defunct Alliance of American Football league and is now a free agent.
How did Mayfield do at Oklahoma?
In three seasons at Oklahoma, Mayfield, twice an All-American, threw for 12,292 total yards, 119 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and led the Sooners to three Big 12 Championships during that time.
Mayfield finally won the Heisman Trophy in 2017, his senior season, with a sweeping majority after finishing fourth in the voting his sophomore year and third in his junior season.
Other awards Mayfield won during his time at Oklahoma – 2x the Burlsworth Trophy (2015, 2016), the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Davey O’Brien Award and the Associated Press Player of the Year, all in 2017.
What is the “Baker Mayfield Rule”?
It’s complicated, but it has to do with whether NCAA walk-ons who transfer from one school to another should be made to follow the same rules as transferring players who had received a scholarship.
Mayfield argued that he shouldn’t be forced to sit out a year at Oklahoma since he had never received a scholarship to go to Texas Tech, and in the end he won the argument and the so-called Baker Mayfield Rule went into effect.
As a direct result of the new rule, Mayfield got back the year he sat out (2014) by being able to play football for Oklahoma in 2017, which became a critical year for his place in the upcoming NFL football draft.
When did Mayfield get drafted into the NFL?
Most football experts expected the Cleveland Browns, who owned the number one overall pick in the draft, to select the talented (and tall) USC quarterback, Sam Darnold or the even taller and gifted UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
Instead, Browns’ general manager John Dorsey followed his gut and picked Baker Mayfield at number one, stating that he was the perfect type of player to get the turnaround job done.
The Browns and Mayfield signed a four-year rookie contract worth a guaranteed $32.68 million with a $21.85 million signing bonus.
Why have some questioned Mayfield’s draft position?
There were several reasons, the first being Mayfield’s height, 6-foot-1, which is considered to be on the shorter end for NFL quarterbacks, especially when compared with Darnold, who is 6-foot-3, and Baker’s other main draft competitor, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who is 6-foot-4.
The biggest factor playing into doubts about Mayfield were his various arguably immature antics – from planting an Oklahoma flag in the middle of the Ohio State football field to running from the police while drunk.
The Browns had already been burnt by one quarterback partier, Johnny “Football” Manziel, and many Browns fans didn’t want to take another risky chance on a talented but shorter quarterback who seems to enjoy making a lot of waves.
How effective has Mayfield been in the NFL?
Turns out there was nothing to worry about – once Baker Mayfield stepped under center in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season, he led the team to their first win in 19 games and by the end of the season had broken the single season touchdown passing record for rookie quarterbacks by throwing for 27 TDs.
And don’t forget, Mayfield did all that while his head coach (Hue Jackson) and offensive coordinator (Todd Haley) were fired after Week 8 and then with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams filling in as head coach and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens stepping in as the new offensive coordinator.
In thirteen games, Mayfield completed 310-of-486 for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns with 14 interceptions for a completion percentage of 63.8 and a quarterback rating of 93.7 and was ranked as the 17th most productive quarterback in the league.
Why didn't Mayfield play at the beginning of 2018?
On numerous occasions during past seasons, the Browns had been guilty of starting their rookie quarterbacks too soon, including the previous year when DeShone Kizer was prematurely pushed under center in Week 1 and led the Browns to their pitiful 0-16 season.
So nobody questioned then head coach Hue Jackson’s decision to start Tyrod Taylor and have Mayfield clipboarding nearby, though it was curious how little the rookie was allowed reps with the first team (the ones) during training camp and practices.
By the time Mayfield did step in for an injured Taylor, he had had very little practice with the starters, so the fact that he was as effective as he was despite that makes his NFL debut all the more impressive.
Has Mayfield’s off the field antics been a distraction?
It depends on who you are.
If you’re one of his haters, like talking head Colin Cowherd or any fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens or Cincinnati Bengals, you might not like it when Baker calls out his old coaches for poor leadership or stands up for himself online or bites into a beer can and shotguns the suds at an Indians game.
But if you’re a Browns fan, Mayfield is just what the doctor ordered, a confident (bordering on cocky) leader who has the talent, the personality and the football IQ to bring Browns postseason games back to Cleveland once again.
Will Mayfield’s offensive line be able to protect him?
The biggest question mark regarding the Browns roster is their offensive line.
There is no question about three of them – left guard Joel Bitonio, center J.C. Tretter and right tackle Chris Hubbard – but the other two positions are where some experts have doubt.
There is an ongoing training camp battle at right guard between Austin Corbett, Eric Kush and Kyle Kalis, and at left tackle between Greg Robinson and Brian Fineanganofo.
Last season, the Browns offensive line allowed 38 sacks (25 of those were of Mayfield) and ranked 14th overall in average rushing yards per game with 118.3.
Why did Mayfield’s receivers drop so many balls last season?
By December last year the Browns were tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the highest percentage of dropped balls with 5.1, and there are several answers as to why Mayfield’s receivers dropped so many passes, the most obvious one being that it was his rookie season and everything was brand new.
Again, then head coach Hue Jackson extremely limited Mayfield’s reps with the ones in training camp, so the receivers didn’t really start catching balls from Baker until after starter Tyrod Taylor went down with a concussion during the Browns’ Week 3 matchup with the New York Jets.
One of the other reasons for the drops is the way Mayfield throws the football – the guy’s arm launches rockets and they’re not easy to hang onto, and that fact was confirmed by recently acquired deep threat Odell Beckham Jr., who told the press, "[Mayfield]'s throwing that ball hard, so just catching it from him from the first day it was like, 'Wow, this is completely different.' It just takes time.”
How are the Cleveland Browns predicted to do in 2019?
Right now, the odds makers are saying the 2019-20 Cleveland Browns have the best chance to win their division and have a decent chance to win the AFC.
In fact, the Browns have so turned around their franchise that they are now tied with the Indianapolis Colts as the fifth most likely team to win the Super Bowl next season.
Their roster looks amazing on paper, but as new head coach Freddie Kitchens will be the first to say, they haven’t done squat as a team yet, so they have been ignoring all of the hype and the external expectations.
Kitchens will have his hands full managing a locker room full of dynamic personalities and new coaches while creating game plans that begin to use OBJ to stretch the field, but with Mayfield’s help, get ready to watch the Browns in a completely new light, the shiny brightness that comes with actually winning some football games.
For more details on the Cleveland Browns upcoming 2019-20 season, please check out our prior coverage: The Cleveland Browns' Biggest Offseason Moves 2019 - Odds and Predictions
What are the current odds and predictions on Mayfield's possible 2019 production?
The expectations for Mayfield in 2019 are huge, and that goes for his possible output, as well.
Below we take a look at what the odds makers have released regarding Mayfield’s total passing yards and total number of touchdown passes and we briefly analyze it based on his rookie season numbers.
Here are Mayfield's current odds for 2019:
Caveat: Mayfield must play in game one for action to commence.
Baker Mayfield's 2019 Regular Season Passing Yards
|Sportsbook||Over 4325.5 yards||Under 4325.5 yards||Link|
* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER
Analysis: Mayfield only threw for a total of 3,725 yards last season, but you have to remember that was in just 13.5 games.
If you do the math, he averaged @ 276 passing yards per game in 2018, so if he had played in all sixteen games he would have thrown for 4,415 yards, which would have easily beat the over of this bet.
Also, if you take into consideration how much more time Mayfield has had with his number ones this year compared to last, then this bet becomes about the over, with the under being a better gamble only if you think Mayfield won’t stay healthy all year.
Baker Mayfield's 2019 Regular Season Passing Touchdowns
|Sportsbook||Over 31.5 Touchdowns||Under 31.5 Touchdowns||Link|
* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER
Remember, Mayfield threw for 27 touchdowns last season, but again, that was in just 13.5 games and to receivers that had no experience catching his fiery passes.
Do the math and Mayfield would have thrown for 32 touchdowns had he played in 16 games last season, barely beating the over of this bet.
But if you think that Mayfield won’t be even better with Beckham on his roster, then definitely bet the under, but be prepared to lose your money if (and more probably when) the Browns offense begins to click like they did in the second half of last season under Kitchens’ leadership.