By: Mark Leipold
- College Production
- Arm Strength
- Excellent Touch Throws
- Pocket presence, Ability to extend plays
- Throwing on the run
Accuracy – Mayfield was a very accurate college quarterback, posting over 70% accuracy in his final two seasons. He doesn’t get this number by throwing all short passes (a la Sam Bradford), as he registered over 14 yards per completion for his career, and over 16 yards per completion in his senior season. Mayfield is an incredibly accurate thrower of the football.
Production – Mayfield posted absurd video-game-like numbers at Oklahoma, more in terms of efficiency than in raw production, but both were exceptional. Take into account that Mayfield played his senior season after losing two excellent running backs in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, as well as 2016 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook (NCAAF Most Outstanding WR). The fact Mayfield posted over 11.0 Y/A in his final two seasons is mind-boggling. His TD:INT Ratio of 83:14 over those two seasons is equally ridiculous, and his 4,627 passing yards in 2017 are the icing on the cake. Mayfield is one of the most productive and efficient QBs to ever enter the NFL draft. For comparison, Andrew Luck peaked at 9.0 Y/A in a single season and never broke 10.0 AY/A. Mayfield had two seasons of over 11.0 Y/A and over 12.0 AY/A. Pretty impressive.
Arm Strength – Mayfield and “arm strength” aren’t often used together, but he can let loose and hit the deep ball. Here is a great look at him dropping a dime that travels 55 yards in the air.
Excellent Touch Throws – Mayfield’s arm strength is not fully appreciated as mentioned above. He has a knack for putting the right amount of height and power on throws over the middle to avoid linebackers and safeties when trying to fit the ball in between levels. Here is a good clip of him dropping a deep ball over the center fielder. The second shows him hitting the right spot on the inside to keep the ball away from the DB.
Pocket presence/Ability to extend plays – Mayfield’s athleticism isn’t his most talked about attribute, but he has Aaron Rodgers-esque (note: I am not comparing him to Aaron Rodgers) movement in the pocket to escape pressure, without panicking and running for his life, to extend plays. While he’s not under huge pressure in the first clip, he can be seen weaving a bit and making a tackler miss. Second, a nice open run where he can stretch his legs – he shows decent speed. The third clip is a crazy Houdini act where he somehow escapes and is able to throw it away. The fourth clip is another ridiculous Houdini act where he is able to direct traffic and complete a pass.
Throwing on the run – Mayfield maintains his power and accuracy on the run, which goes a long way in the NFL when being pursued by big, fast defenders. Mayfield’s ability to complete passes on the run and his vision to do so are both excellent. The first clip highlights his power and accuracy to split the defenders when throwing on the run. The second clip is a great demonstration of his ability to direct traffic and throw a gem on the run – the pass is an absolute strike for a TD.
- Screen Passes
Overconfident – Mayfield thinks he can squeeze passes in tight windows sometimes when he can’t. He suffers from a bit of Jameis Winston Syndrome (dibs on the naming rights if this becomes an official diagnosis) in that sense. He is a true gunslinger.
Vision – Mayfield at times displays a lack of vision for defenders not in his direct line of sight, particularly when throwing near the hashes to receivers cutting toward the middle of the field. He is susceptible to an inside linebacker or safety in the area picking him off. He also has shown poor vision when making decisions on option handoffs at times.
Screen Passes – Mayfield frequently fails to see edge rushers who break through the line of scrimmage quickly when throwing screen passes. Many times, he attempts to throw the screen anyway at the risk of an interception, though most were batted down harmlessly in his college days.
Mayfield is one of the most prolific and efficient QB prospects we’ve ever seen. The concerns about his height are overstated, as he didn’t have a huge number of passes batted in college when not under pressure. Short QBs don’t even have a track record of struggling in the NFL. That all said, there is really nothing that Mayfield can’t do. The only real knock I have on him is that he can be overconfident and that he will need to have better awareness in the NFL. Without being willing to take a sack or throw the ball away, he’ll struggle to hold a job, but he sure as heck has the potential to be a high-end starter.
Mayfield has the potential to be a stud, both in real life and in fantasy. As he showed in his senior season at Oklahoma, he doesn’t need stud skill position players around him to produce. This is why it’s poor taste to compare him to Johnny Manziel, who was propped up by Mike Evans and a strong offensive line. Mayfield’s success is truly his own, and he’s ready to start on Day 1 in the NFL. He’s my favorite QB for dynasty purposes, especially because he’s mobile enough, and I think he’ll be able to sustain a long career. His fantasy outlook includes the possibility of a 10+ year career with many QB1 seasons, though it also includes being a bust just like any other QB. To me, Mayfield is a very safe option and sports a low likelihood of being a bust, given his wide range of skills and his track record of elite production at the college level. In the right landing spot, I’d consider him as high as 1.03 in Superflex rookie drafts.