Why I’m Wavering on the Idea of the Cleveland Browns Picking Baker Mayfield

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I wrote about the possibility of the Cleveland Browns selecting QB Baker Mayfield first overall back in January, and frankly haven’t put much thought into the concept since. This is mainly due to the fact the buzz connecting the former Oklahoma Sooner to the Browns all but died off soon after the Senior Bowl.

Just over 24 hours away from the NFL Draft, the buzz has returned. Many are claiming Mayfield has a real shot at being selected with Cleveland’s No.1 pick.

Which is unfortunate, as this is occurring right as I’ve started to waver on my stance with the Heisman winner. While I was on board with the idea a few months ago, I now find myself concerned about the possibility of the Browns taking Mayfield.

It has nothing to do with his stats, which are actually far more impressive than most of the available quarterbacks. I have no concerns about his accuracy, arm strength or his ability to lead.

His height does give me pause, I’ll say that much. However, his measuring in at 6’1″ isn’t so glaring an issue I’d be opposed to Cleveland drafting him. I’m of the mind his strengths are significant enough that his not being the ideal size is no big deal (pun only slightly intended).

What’s starting to concern me, though, is the fact some of his recent actions are lending credence to one of his bigger red flags.

I tried to ignore Mayfield’s trademark cockiness, passing it off as moxie he’ll need to occasionally rein in. However, some stories surfacing as the draft nears have me thinking it may be something worth worrying about.

For one, Mayfield has hardly been subtle about the fact he’s not giving every interested team the same respect, or even the time of day in some cases. He notoriously blew off the Chicago Bears earlier this year, rebuffing their request to meet with him when noting they already had a QB in Mitch Trubisky. In last week’s story with SI, Mayfield admitted a meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers went poorly mainly due to his not putting much effort into learning their playbook. His reasoning for this?

“No offense to them, but I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

Mayfield added more to the narrative yesterday when discussing a conversation he had with agent Bus Cook. While attempting to represent the former Sooner, Cook made it apparent he hadn’t taken much time to learn about how he ended up with Oklahoma. Offended upon hearing this, Mayfield proudly claimed he hung up on the agent.

Are these instances as alarming as run-ins with the law or a failed drug test? Not at all.

At the same time, the knock on Mayfield has been the same since the draft process started. Many were concerned with his attitude, worried his trademark cockiness may rub people the wrong way. Instead of adjusting his outward persona, or even toning it down a bit, it appears he’s rejecting such suggestions completely.

To me, this is concerning. It hints Mayfield may indeed have trouble toeing the line between driven and arrogant.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect how he’s used his journey from Texas Tech walk-on to Heisman Trophy winner as fuel for success.

At the same time, when he’s being advised to alleviate concerns about his attitude, and he’s instead deciding to ramp it up, it worries me a bit. It makes me wonder if the teams who aren’t very high on him specifically for his brash personality are on to something.

I’m not here to compare Mayfield to Johnny Manziel, the last conceited quarterback Cleveland drafted. All I’m saying is this franchise has swung and missed far too often when drafting quarterbacks, and can’t afford to ignore any glaring red flags this time around. Mayfield may possess plenty of skill, but if there’s even the slightest bit of belief his attitude may outweigh this, the Browns need to pass.

In the end, if they end up taking Mayfield, I could find myself eventually getting on board. However, the concern about his cockiness causing issues in the locker room will always be present.

Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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