Walk-on at two schools who capped off his career by winning
the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien Award in
2017, throwing for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns versus six
interceptions; led the country in yards per attempt (11.5).
Two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year as well as two-time
first-team All-American (2015, 2017).
Set the NCAA record for pass efficiency as a junior in 2016
(196.4) before topping it in 2017 (198.9); ranks second all-time
in FBS in career passer rating (175.4), trailing only ex-Sooner
Sam Bradford (175.6).
Ended career throwing at least two touchdown passes in a
FBS-record 27 straight games.
Owns the school record for career completion percentage (69.8).
Tied for fourth in FBS history with 131 passing TDs.
Arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and
fleeing/resisting arrest in February 2017.
High-end NFL Player Comp(s):
Doug Flutie Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Case
Best Scheme Fit: Quick-hitting, up-tempo, shotgun-heavy offense to accentuate his mobility as well as his football intelligence while also minimizing his lack of ideal size. Note: All times listed in parentheses
in strengths/weaknesses section reflect the start time on video
- via Draft Breakdown - that displays that skill/trait.
Four-year starter; pro/college coaches rave about his football
intelligence and competitiveness.
Erratic at best decision-making/accuracy against the blitz,
occasionally slow to react to delayed blitz. (1:31, 2:00, 2:33, 3:02, 3:32, 4:17, 7:22)
Holds ball too long in an effort to hit the big play; Pro
Football Focus attributed a FBS-high 11 of the 26 sacks he suffered
in 2017 to him. (2:09, 3:49, 3:56, 5:35, 5:55, 7:06, 10:04)
Waits for receivers to come open more often than he throws
with anticipation; delivers the occasional "lollipop"/back-foot
throw for no apparent reason (0:30, 1:31, 3:30)
Under center only 4.8 percent of the time (43 snaps) in 2017.
In order to keep this summary from becoming a bit of a novel,
I will focus solely on Mayfield's ability as a football player
and not his well-documented "character issues." Being
a college spread quarterback isn't nearly as damaging to a prospect
as it was only a few years ago. NFL play-callers are realizing
one of the best ways to help a young signal-caller develop at
the next level is to allow him to build confidence using similar
concepts to the ones he thrived with during his college days while
spoon-feeding him a NFL playbook. Russell Wilson and Drew Brees
have proven prototypical size isn't a prerequisite to being an
elite quarterback. With that said, Mayfield has to overcome both
"issues." Wilson (athleticism, arm strength, etc.) and
Brees (relentless attention to the fundamentals, intelligence,
etc.) each have at least one quality that separates them from
the pack. What is/are Mayfield's special/elite trait(s)?
In addition to their aforementioned skills, another reason Wilson
and Brees are able to thrive is the frequency with which they
operate out of shotgun. I believe Mayfield will need to be utilized
in a similar manner if he is going to become the third recent
"short guy" to succeed in the NFL. Unlike Wilson and
Brees, I get the sense Mayfield will not be able to succeed in
anything but a shotgun-based offense. Several prominent analytics
sites love Mayfield for his success with "NFL throws"
and his ability to complete passes under pressure (each one being
a separate entity). He will be required to do both at the same
time from now on, and he'll need to do so in 2.5-3 seconds. My
film study revealed a quarterback who pays the price for trying
to make something happen just as often as he is rewarded for doing
so. More troubling were the number of instances in which he struggled
or panicked against the few defenses willing/able/talented enough
to blitz him. Look no further than the second half of the College
Football Playoff semifinal game against Georgia to see what I
think pro teams will try to do Mayfield going forward. Once the
Bulldogs dialed up the pressure, rushed Mayfield in a more disciplined
way and played more press-man with his receivers at the line of
scrimmage, the passing game stalled.
Accuracy is not a problem for Mayfield in the 20-25 yard range
and concerns about arm strength have been overblown. He throws
well on the move and has the rare ability to run left and throw
right in a way that would make Wilson proud (although Mayfield
isn't quite as good at it). On the down side, Mayfield isn't going
to be afforded near the time he had in the pocket at Oklahoma,
nor will he have the luxury of waiting for receivers to separate.
There's a distinct possibility he may be never be as effective
under center as he is from shotgun. Moreover, if he lands with
a team with a coach on the hot seat, I can easily see him getting
lost in the shuffle quickly as he will not be a flavor for everyone.
So, in summary, find Mayfield a team with a stable coaching situation
and an offensive coordinator willing to cater an offense around
him, and I believe the reigning Heisman Trophy winner could be
the best quarterback from this draft. Fail to do so, and his team
might have a journeyman like Keenum on their hands.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.