In the opinion of this writer, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is the second-best passer in the class, but don’t be surprised if he is the third or fourth one selected. NFL teams obsessed with upside will likely opt for Josh Allen or Sam Darnold over Mayfield, but the reality is that accuracy, ball placement, timing, mechanics, decision-making and mental processing are where quarterbacks win in the NFL. That’s where Mayfield shines.
Here are three of the best scheme fits for Mayfield among teams that could need a quarterback in the range he is likely to be drafted.
1. Denver Broncos
It sounds like the Broncos will not be nabbing Kirk Cousins in free agency, which leaves them open for business at the quarterback position. Even if Case Keenum signs there as expected, don’t be surprised if Denver still opts for a quarterback at No. 5. Keenum is an upgrade but unlikely to be the long-term answer, and even though Denver will be forced to pay up for him, the deal could be front-loaded without significant term.
Mayfield is capable of getting out of the pocket on the move and is a terrific ballhandler, both important aspects of running Bill Musgrave’s offense. The Broncos’ offensive coordinator runs a souped-up version of a West Coast system, adopting modern spread principles that should be perfect for Mayfield’s skill set. The Heisman Trophy winner is deadly accurate with good timing and velocity on his passes, and he has the arm to go deep when needed as well. Denver may have interest elsewhere, but Mayfield is the perfect quarterback for its system.
2. New York Jets
Jet offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is another West Coast-principle coach. There are plenty of elements to his offense that would be ideal for Mayfield’s skill set. The Jets could bring back Josh McCown to help with the transition to Mayfield, but the Oklahoma quarterback is more NFL-ready than given credit for, and should win the starting job fairly quickly.
Of course, in New York the Jets are lacking quality receivers and are in desperate need of a star running back and at least two starters on the offensive line. Mayfield may not like this landing spot as much as I do. Upgrades would need to be made elsewhere, but Mayfield has the tools and the demeanor to breathe life back into the Jets’ dying organization.
3. Miami Dolphins
Adam Gase is known for an offense that helps quarterbacks be at their best, largely because he draws from a number of different offensive schemes in building his own system. He’s willing to assemble the structure of an offense around what his players do best. Landing Mayfield could give him a reliable signal-caller who is able to master the West Coast elements while still pushing vertical concepts down the field.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Ryan Tannehill, but the Dolphins could trade him and avoid his big cap hits over the next three years while getting a potential upgrade at quarterback. Tannehill is a solid starter in a league which will pay up for even that caliber of passer, so don’t be surprised if we start to hear whispers of Miami exploring its options this offseason.