Allow me to preface this write up by telling you to take it not just with a grain, but perhaps an entire bowl of salt. Draft season in the NFL is sometimes cavalierly referred to as “lying season,” an especially true moniker as you approach the final stages.
The last week leading up to the Thursday primetime event is one littered with false reports designed to drum up interest in fans and to cultivate uncertainty among teams competing to acquire star players. A report now circulating looks engineered to at least accomplish one of those two things, if not both.
The report is Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield is very much in the running to go number one overall to the Cleveland Browns, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Just to add a bit more murkiness to top of draft: one NFL executive said this morning that Baker Mayfield is “definitely” in Cleveland’s conversation to become the No. 1 overall pick.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2018
It’s very interesting to see this coming out now, especially after seeing months of speculation that Cleveland’s front office had whittled down to their decision to Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. As for it simply being a smokescreen, it does appear there may be a little bit more to it.
Appearing on ESPN’s “Get Up” Schefter cited a source close to the situation who told him Mayfield was very much in the conversation due to the influence of Browns’ front office executive Scot McCloughan who loves Mayfield as a player. Schefter stated that McCloughan is high up within the power structure there, and as such could have a strong potential sway with general manager and final decision maker John Dorsey.
Speaking at a pre-draft press conference a few days ago, Dorsey kept his cards close to the vest, saying he would be keeping his options open at the top of the draft. He also had some nice words for Mayfield and seemed to like what he brings to the table.
The report in question has been backed up by Dan Patrick who spoke with a source who said that Allen and Mayfield were both in the mix. The same source said Dorsey was very high on Russell Wilson who Mayfield compares favorably to. For what it’s worth, Patrick has been predicting Allen will ultimately be the pick based on what he’s been hearing.
While Baker is a high level prospect, this would be a pretty crazy scenario if it were to ever play out; it would be hard to picture a six foot quarterback with some off the field history going first overall. Still, stranger things have happened, which is a testament to the NFL’s ability to generate big time headlines almost a full three months after the final snap was taken in the 2017 season.
When your favorite team will be playing against this number one pick twice a year, the intrigue and anticipation can be ratcheted up pretty high on rumors surrounding it. I would say the draft can’t get here soon enough... but reports like this sure are a lot of fun aren’t they?