Baker Mayfield Profile
Baker Mayfield has been making the headlines in the NFL ever since he was selected as the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL draft. He has since switched to the Carolina Panthers.
During his time with the Browns, he broke the passing touchdowns record for a rookie quarterback and, in 2020, helped lead the side to their first playoff appearance since 2002 and first playoff victory in the same year since 1994.
His achievements in the sport, however, precede his time in the NFL, and this piece shall take a look at his time in the NFL along with his rise.
Early Promise at Lake Travis High School
Baker Mayfield was born on April 14, 1995, in Austin, Texas. Despite growing up in Texas, Mayfield was an Oklahoma fan. His father played a bit of football for a few years at the University of Houston, but never got his varsity letter.
His father also encountered quite a few financial troubles during his childhood, which meant that he was constantly moving from one rented home to the next. This didn’t deter young Mayfield from showcasing his talent with a football in hand. Making it to the top despite the odds is something that is prevalent throughout Mayfield’s rise to the NFL.
Mayfield joined Lake Travis High School’s Cavaliers football team and was an absolute star for them. In his two seasons at the school, they had a record of 25-2 and helped them win their fifth championship on the bounce.
The team won a 4A State Championship in 2011, and he put on some highly impressive stats in that time: 6,255 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He was also awarded the American-Statesman’s All-Central Texas newcomer of the year.
He was originally behind Michael Brewer and Colin Lagasse in the pecking order for a starting quarterback but showed in those two seasons why he was picked ahead of them eventually. This wouldn’t be the first time he forced himself ahead of Michael Brewer.
Despite these highs, he was still categorized as a three-star recruit and got scholarship offers from various division sides Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State, and Wyoming, but trusted himself to overcome the adversity and joined the Texas Tech.
Texas Tech were among the three institutions, along with Baylor and Washington State, to provide walk-on offers.
The Texas Tech Years
Talent is important, but even the greatest athletes in any sport had some good fortune along the way. Mayfield certainly needed some luck along the way. After accepting the walk-on offer from Texas Tech, Mayfield had to once again take the main quarterback spot from Michael Brewer.
Brewer suffered a back injury before the FBS season even got going, and Mayfield didn’t waste his opportunity. He became the first walk-on true freshman quarterback to start the first game of an FBS season.
That wasn’t the only bit of history he was about to make on the day. In his very first game for Texas Tech, he got four touchdowns and passed 413 yards. He also managed 43 completions from 60 attempts, which was a school record previously held by Billy Joe Tolliver.
If he managed just four more completions, the NCAA Division I FBS single-game record for completions by a freshman Luke McCown would also be broken. It was a fantastic week for the young Mayfield and was topped off when he was named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
He put on fine displays following his Texas Tech debut with 780 season yards and seven touchdowns in just two games, which surpassed the numbers of Aaron Keesee, who was the team’s last great quarterback. Keesee, however, managed the same in 10 games.
Mayfield was clearly turning out to be a revelation, but his progress was halted after suffering a knee injury, and David Webb was to take his place. Mayfield ended the season with impressive numbers, however. He had amassed 2,315 yards on 218-of-340 completions with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
In the end, despite winning the Big 12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year for the 2013 season award, and being named as a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, he left Texas Tech for University of Oklahoma in 2014 to play for the Oklahoma Sooners.
The reason for the switch cited by Mayfield was a miscommunication, and little did Mayfield know that this wouldn’t be the first miscommunication issue in his career. Mayfield also cited scholarship issues and believed that he’d done enough to be the undisputed starting quarterback at Texas Tech. This opinion was shared by Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.
The nature of the transfer was in violation of the Big 12 Conference transfer rules, however. This meant that Mayfield had to miss a whole season. Mayfield appealed, but the appeal was turned down. He had to wait for the 2014 season to end before representing the Sooners, and it’s hard to assess just how badly this period affected his progress.
The Oklahoma Sooners Years
The Oklahoma Sooners years were the making of Mayfield. He enjoyed a 33-5 record during his time with the Sooners, and was a recipient of the Heisman Trophy in 2017.
The 2015 season, his first with the Sooners, got off to a slow start but picked up when he led the team to an incredible comeback against the Volunteers. There was a 17-point deficit in the game before the Sooners won the game in overtime. Once again, Mayfield showed that something stirred in him during the toughest moments.
He followed this performance by throwing 487 yards and four touchdowns against Tulsa. This was a supreme performance, and he’d finally shown his qualities to the Sooners faithful. Mayfield was excellent all season, finishing the year with 3,700 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting and helped his team make it to the Orange Bowl.
Next season, he helped his team win the Sugar Bowl, was a Heisman Trophy finalist and got the MVP award in the match for amassing 19 completions on 28 attempts for 296 passing yards and two touchdowns. The season was also remembered for a famous match where Mayfield went up against Patrick Mahomes’ Texas Longhorns.
That was when the famous rivalry between Mayfield and Mahomes was set in motion, with the iconic 66-59 game between Oklahoma and Texas. The two teams covered a record 1708 total yards of offense, of which Mahomes and Mayfield were responsible for a combined 1279 passing yards - the most ever in a college game, surpassing the 1640-yard record previously set by Nevada and San Jose State in 2001.
Mayfield covered 27 for 36 running 545 yards and set a Sooners record by scoring seven touchdowns, one better than the six by Landry Jones. Mahomes set an FBS record by running 819 total yards, and his 734 passing yards tied Connor Halliday's record for most passing yards in a single game. He scored seven touchdowns as well. The game went down in the annals of NCAA college football history, and the two quarterbacks still talk about the shoot-out to this day.
As stated earlier, Mayfield would finally win the Heisman Trophy in 2017, becoming the first walk-on to do so. That wasn’t the only reason he made headlines that season, however. He planted a Sooners flag at the Ohio Stadium after a win against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Little did he know that he was going to represent a team from Ohio the very next season.
Mayfield’s senior year in Oklahoma witnessed some of his best college performances. He completed 285 passes out of 404 attempts in 14 games and covered 4627 yards. Mayfield also completed 43 touchdown passes, which works out to an average of just over three per game.
Mayfield would be in the headlines for the wrong reasons once again that season for unsportsmanlike conduct towards the Kansas Jayhawks coach. He was publicly reprimanded once again, and for the second time in that season, he put forward a public apology. On the bright side, he led Oklahoma to their third Big 12 championship on the bounce.
A New Hero in Cleveland
The Cleveland Browns’ recent history wasn’t the most glorious, but their passionate support has always made the franchise an accommodating place to play football. After being selected in the 2018 NFL draft as the first overall pick, Mayfield signed a four-year rookie contract deal worth $32.68 million with the option of an extension.
His first great contribution was helping the Browns end their 19-game winless run against the New York Jets. Despite joining the NFL, though, the controversy surrounding him hadn’t stopped. He was fined $10,026 for unsportsmanlike conduct in his very first season.
Overall, the 2018 season was considered progress even though the Browns didn’t make the playoffs. They ended the season with a record of 7-8-1, which was their best in 11 years. As was tradition, he had to break a rookie record, amassing the most touchdowns in a rookie year with 27, but didn’t receive the Offensive Rookie of the year award.
The second season was a bit underwhelming when compared to the first, but he started all the games, becoming the first Browns quarterback since Tim Couch in 2001 to do so. There was some consistency in the team finally, but they were unable to make the push into the playoffs.
Their fortunes would finally change the next year. After an 18-year wait, they were finally back in the playoffs and even beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wildcard Round to get their first playoff win in 26 years and first road playoff victory in 51 years. Mayfield finished the season with 4,030 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 18 games.
It looked like things were finally taking shape for Mayfield and the team. The playoff hoodoo was over, and it was just a matter of time before they could go a little further into the playoffs. However, that was not to be.
The 2021 season, his fourth year, was marred by injuries. The Browns had exercised the fifth year extension, which made things a little tense. Despite denying that there was a difference of opinion with regards to some key decisions throughout the season between himself and coach Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield made it known that he’d like to be traded after Deshaun Watson was signed by the Browns in the off-season. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2022.
Joins the Carolina Panthers
Mayfield’s stock had fallen a little through this phase of his career, with many solid quarterbacks emerging across the league. The Panthers hadn't been among the most organized teams during his joining, but it appeared that Mayfield just wanted to get out of Cleveland by whatever means necessary.
His very first game for the Panthers was against his former side, and he managed to throw 235 yards, a touchdown, and an interception but was ultimately on the losing side. But once again, injuries hampered his season. In Week 5 of the 2022 season, he suffered an ankle sprain that kept him out for three weeks.
Onto The Los Angeles Rams
Now, after being released by the Panthers, Mayfied is seemingly on his last shot with the Rams.
Baker Mayfield Profile: Recap
Baker Mayfield came into the league with much hype, but it does seem like he’s not quite lived up to it and that the hype was possibly not warranted to begin with. The Browns looked like they wanted to keep him, but he requested the trade, and they obliged.
Mayfield’s rise has been riddled with challenges, and he seems to have overcome them all -- right from his time at Lake Travis to the teams he has represented in the NFL. But even his best season in the NFL in 2020 doesn’t compare to what other players in his position in the NFL had begun to offer.
The injury issues and external factors haven’t helped, but Mayfield has got a lot of time to turn things around and make the Panthers his home.
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