Be careful of Baker Mayfield debut, but it was impressive
The Cleveland Browns’ rookie quarterback lit up an NFC opponent in his professional debut, an August exhibition game that gave hope to a beleaguered franchise.
And then Thursday night, Baker Mayfield did the same.
On Aug. 10, 2017, Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer, a second-round pick out of Notre Dame, completed 11 of 18 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown as the Browns beat New Orleans 20-14.
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On Thursday night, Mayfield, the first overall pick of the 2018 draft, completed 11 of 20 passes for two touchdowns and 212 yards as the Browns beat the New York Giants 20-10.
Kizer went on to make 15 starts in the Browns’ 0-16 season, finishing with a 53.6 completion percentage, 11 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions, ghastly numbers for the 21st century. Kizer now is in Green Bay and the Mayfield Era nears its start in Cleveland.
So hold off on too much excitement about Mayfield. But he clearly was impressive. A sampling of the analysis:
Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: “Fantastic awareness all-around for a rookie.”
Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated: “Had a number of coaches tell me Mayfield is the most accurate passer they’d ever evaluated coming out of college. You could see it on the throw to (David) Njoku.”
Field Yates, ESPN: “…showed good poise in the pocket, played strong situational football, threw well on the move. A nice starting point.”
Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report: “Baker Mayfield in one series looked better than (Johnny) Manziel did in his entire lousy Browns career.”
Pete Prisco, CBS: “Mayfield is a bit jumpy at the hint of first pressure, but he’s looked pretty good tonight.”
Andrew Gribble, clevelandbrowns.com: “The ending was great, but best part of Mayfield’s performance … was third- and fourth-down conversions. Four third downs where he needed more than 5 and two on fourth.”
The Ringer: “If you listen carefully, you can hear people frantically buying what little Baker Mayfield stock is still available.”
DraftKings Sportsbook: “To anyone who bet against Baker Mayfield, we’re sorry.”
Damien Woody, ESPN: “Pocket awareness was excellent! Not many young QBs move in the pocket but keep their eyes down the field.”
Lincoln Riley, OU: “I saw the first touchdown as we were walking out to walkthrough and I didn’t get to see, I recorded it and watched it at home after. He looked good. He looked comfortable. I thought he did a great job moving around in the pocket. It was probably the most impressive thing. They did a decent job of protecting him and he threw it like we all know he can throw it. Always excited. I talked to him a little bit after the game. I know he’s excited but also keeping it in perspective. It’s only one game. Everybody now is going to say … it’s overreaction either way, which is going to happen. He just has to keep his head down and keep improving. It looks like he’s on a good path.”