When the announcement was made that the Cleveland Browns were taking quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall last night, I was immediately annoyed.
Not with the pick, mind you. I’ve noted my concerns about Mayfield, but I still support the selection.
No, I was annoyed because, within moments of the pick being called, numerous people jumped to tell me the Browns had just drafted Johnny Manziel 2.0.
You don’t have to like Cleveland taking Mayfield first overall, that’s completely fine. However, if your reasoning is you think he’s a Manziel clone, you’re so wrong it’s not even funny.
The comparison between the new and former Browns quarterbacks is accurate in the following ways. They’re both around six feet tall. They’re both from Texas. They both have a swagger about them, which sometimes borders on arrogance. Each had run-ins with the law while in college.
…and that’s about it.
Seriously, I doubt anyone who believes Mayfield is just another version of Manziel actually based their opinion on anything besides “well they’re both short and cocky and drank in college, it’s uncanny.”
To be fair, these misguided fans are undoubtedly still scarred by the damage Manziel caused during his brief stint in Cleveland. I get that. At the same time, it’s not very hard to see glaring differences between Manziel and Mayfield.
For one, the latter’s college arrest was an isolated incident. Everyone saw Mayfield’s February 2017 public intoxication charges as proof he was just another Manziel, completely disregarding the fact he hasn’t gotten into trouble since.
Comparatively speaking, while Mayfield’s incident shouldn’t be ignored, it also pales in comparison to what we saw from Manziel before he even went pro.
Remember, when the former Texas A&M star fell into the national spotlight, he embraced it like there was no tomorrow. Pictures of his hard-partying frequently surfaced, as his off-field celebrity status suddenly gained more notoriety than his play on the field. Just under a year before he was drafted, ESPN published a lengthy story noting how concerned Manziel’s own parents were about his behavior.
Again, this was before he showed up in the NFL. Before he made his blunder-filled Browns debut. Before he checked into rehab. Before he drank his way out of the league.
You’ll find nothing like that when researching Mayfield. Instead, you find a player who was handed nothing and worked for everything he’s earned to this point. A player who received no legit scholarship offers, walked on at Texas Tech, transferred to Oklahoma, won the Heisman Trophy and got selected first overall.
Trust me, absolutely none of this happens if Mayfield has the off-field reputation Manziel had during his time on campus.
Honestly, one of the most frustrating aspects of the Manziel comparisons is how easily they can be debunked. All you have to do is pull up each player’s respective draft profile and compare them side-by-side.
Manziel’s pre-draft report was littered with things like “is known to party too much” and “Hollywood lifestyle.” This was also typically coupled with “has not developed a reputation as a worker” and “not a leader by example.”
You don’t find a single word like this in Mayfield’s draft profile. Instead, you can read about a player who set NCAA records in pass efficiency for two straight seasons, who teammates rally around, who’s accurate no matter where he’s throwing the ball.
People rave about Mayfield’s alarmingly quick ability to digest and process a playbook. Manziel has openly admitted he didn’t understand plays, that he wasn’t someone who’d put effort into studying film (he even blames the Browns for not knowing this ahead of time).
Mayfield can successfully operate an offense. Manziel played backyard football, improvising when the ball was snapped before hurling it to an open man.
Mayfield is your prototypical “first to arrive, last to leave” player who busts his ass every day. Manziel was more of a “first to leave, may potentially not arrive” kind of guy.
Try as you might to see a clear connection between these two players, it’s just not there.
I’m not guaranteeing Mayfield’s pro career will turn out much better than Manziel. What I’m saying is, if it doesn’t, it won’t be because he spent his days drinking as opposed to putting in the work.
If you’re still not sold, I’ll close my argument with two tweets.
I rest my case.