Considering the fact the entire Cleveland sports scene is a bit triggered at the moment thanks to LeBron Watch 2018, the concept of people taking one small quote and running with it is completely understandable. What’s surprising is the fact the latest instance of making a mountain out of a molehill has nothing to do with the Cavs superstar.
Instead, some people are freaking out about one small insight on Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. Though the remark itself wasn’t terribly alarming, it’s leading some to worry the team’s latest attempt at a franchise quarterback is already looking like a bust.
For reasons obvious, this is both laughable and sad.
It all started when Dan Labbe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer shared some observations from Browns minicamp. When discussing the progress of Mayfield, he simply noted the rookie “did not look ready to compete” with veteran Tyrod Taylor for the starting quarterback job.
Since we live in a world where people jump to make a story out of nothing, this one insight turned into the main takeaway.
From there, we received more quality content from hot take nation.
Suddenly, this note from one reporter became the full story, and said story was Mayfield doesn’t look ready to play in the NFL. It got so bad Labbe had to update his article to clarify he in no way meant to imply the rookie was struggling.
Of course, there were many who read the full article and understood what was being said. Still, it’s astounding how many saw Labbe’s comment as an indictment on Mayfield, an indication the Browns may have whiffed with the first overall pick. People who also wonder that, if the rookie can’t compete with Taylor of all people, can he really be trusted to be this team’s QB savior?
As a reminder, the pads haven’t even broken out this offseason. People are freaking out about Mayfield’s progress and basing it solely off what’s been seen in OTAs and a couple days of minicamp. That’s it.
Why anyone would’ve legitimately expected Mayfield to enter the opening phases of his first offseason program and immediately look like an All-Pro is beyond me. Yes, he was deemed by many as one of the most pro-ready prospects available. Still, this doesn’t automatically eliminate the learning curve everyone endures when transitioning from college football to the NFL.
As seasoned as Mayfield is, there’s still a ton of adjusting he needs to go through. This doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen in the first practice sessions of the summer. While the scrutiny will obviously be high for any player selected first overall, it’s ludicrous to judge his progress this early.
It’s just as ludicrous to see Taylor being the clear starter as some sort of indictment on Mayfield.
Many seem to be taking issue with the fact the Browns still plan on starting the veteran in Week 1, that it’s a problem Mayfield hasn’t made this much of a competition (again, in minicamp). He’s the No.1 pick, he should look like a starter right out of the gate. End of story.
This, of course, is also off-base.
Everything we’ve heard from camp implies Taylor has looked like the runaway starter since Day 1. As previously mentioned, this isn’t a bad thing. This is a Browns team which is a year and a half removed from its last victory. Starting the QB which gives them the best chance to win should always be the top priority.
So, it shouldn’t be read that Mayfield isn’t ready to compete because he looks terrible. It should instead simply be seen as Taylor playing so well that Mayfield isn’t at a place where he can loosen his grip on the starting job.
Would it have been great to see Mayfield look like a seasoned vet from the start of OTAs? Sure. At the same time, that he’s instead taking some time to adjust doesn’t indicate he’s already a threat to bust. This is further hammered home by the fact we haven’t even approached training camp yet.
With that said, maybe we wait until later in the year before making any initial judgement on Mayfield’s progress?
On the bright side, while he’s still learning on the field, his Twitter game looks to be as strong as ever.