The Browns Had Sam Darnold #1 on Their Draft Board, But Here's How Baker Mayfield Changed Their Minds

The Browns Had Sam Darnold #1 on Their Draft Board, But Here's How Baker Mayfield Changed Their Minds

NFL

The Browns Had Sam Darnold #1 on Their Draft Board, But Here's How Baker Mayfield Changed Their Minds

In a rare moment of candor, a member of the Cleveland Browns front office has revealed why the team selected Baker Mayfield 1st overall in last week’s NFL Draft.

Speaking to the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club, Browns VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith revealed a lot about the team’s process, including this mild surprise:

“From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2, (Josh) Rosen No. 3, (Lamar) Jackson No. 4 and (Josh) Allen after that.

“On our way through everything, you couldn’t tell me Darnold wasn’t the best. I did all my evaluations of the season.

“Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive.

“And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”

It’s not surprising that Baker Mayfield won the room in Cleveland. He’s an intelligent, cocky guy. A true alpha in the huddle, in the locker room, everywhere. What team doesn’t need that?

Baker Mayfield also turned 23 recently, which obviously helps more in the confidence department than, say, a 20-year old kid like Sam Darnold. Josh Rosen is supremely confident as well, but his delivery is that of a 21-year old and it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

But confidence in an interview is different than confidence on the field. You want confidence on the field? Roll the tape of USC vs Penn State when Darnold was a 19-year old in the Rose Bowl. You want a lack of confidence on the field? Ask Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley about what happened in the 2nd half of the semifinal game against Georgia.

After making a throat slash gesture in the 1st half, Mayfield could barely move the ball in the 2nd half as Georgia turned up the pressure. He threw a costly interception and was held to 87 yards passing in the 2nd half as Georgia rallied to win.

To me, this is like doing all your homework on a car search, identifying the car you want, and then when you go to the dealership, the used car salesman talks you out of your car and into a more expensive vehicle that you liked before, but not this much.

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