The National Football League Draft: three days in the spring when fans of the Cleveland Browns desperately hope that they will secure some top-notch players that could maybe lead them to a few victories. With their last winning record in 2007, a winless record in 2017 and 15 years since their last playoff appearance they are in a serious need of a “New Era”.
The main position that the Browns’ struggle with is the quarterback, and thus, with the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, they chose none other than Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield. While I watched the draft I thought, “Wow, that sucks. Mayfield is going to have a tough road ahead of him.” Who would want to go from being the best to getting put on the worst team in the NFL? Besides, the last time they drafted a native Texan and Heisman Trophy winner was in 2014 with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who had 11 losses and just three wins in his two seasons with the Browns.
Unfortunately, I have noticed some negative parallels between these two as well. Manziel’s short- lived career was full of off-field problems and alcohol abuse. Last February, Mayfield was arrested and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing the scene in Arkansas. Although his playing time was not affected, he endured internal punishments from Oklahoma football. Additionally, he has been involved with several unsportsmanlike conduct controversies on the field including planting the Oklahoma flag on the Ohio State field and cussing out Kansas players, resulting in a stripping of his captaincy for the following game. A quarterback is a leader for the team at all times, so if Mayfield is going to make it big in the NFL, he needs to be mentally tough and control his overly competitive nature after games.
Not only did Mayfield get drafted to a winless team but as of now, he will be riding the bench. Coach Hue Jackson (one-31 in his first two seasons) has pledged the starting quarterback slot to Tyrod Taylor. With Mayfield’s popularity and impressive debut at the NFL rookie mini-camp, many fans are disappointed in this decision and want to see him play. However, against popular opinion, I think starting Taylor is the right decision for the Cleveland Browns. The past two seasons, Jackson has started rookie quarterbacks and felt the consequences.
His plan this year is to use Taylor to mentor Mayfield until he is adjusted and ready for the NFL style of play. At Oklahoma, Mayfield mostly played in the shotgun and performed well but Jackson would like to develop him to play more in the center. Additionally, over the past three seasons, Taylor has gained experience by starting 43 games for the Buffalo Bills and this year lead them to the playoffs, ending the longest current playoff drought in professional American sports. This is exactly who the Browns need—someone who has experience leading and turning around teams. With some decisive moves in the offseason and a concrete plan moving forward, maybe this will be the year the Browns turn it around. And although Mayfield will not be starting, I am sure he will make his way to the top, just like he became the first walk-on player to win the Heisman.
Meredith Jones, Guest Writer.