For the next 20 Fridays I will be writing a series featuring a quarterback in the upcoming draft and a game that they played in. This isn’t so much of a full scouting report on the player, just how we played in general. Of course, I’ll be highlighting traits of what that player does well and if there are areas for improvement. I’ll show 5 throws but mention some other notable throws as I’m going along.
I’m usually out and about so I don’t watch much college football during the season. I really don’t have a concrete opinion about any of these guys.That said, it’s hard not to notice Baker Mayfield. I get asked what I think about Mayfield for obvious Charger reasons quite a bit so writing about him first was a no-brainer. The game I’ll use will be against the highest rated defense he’s seen this year. You guessed it, Texas. The box score says 17-27, 302 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. What’s important to know when I’m going over this is that I’m not here to go over highlights. For me, an 8 yard out route might be a better throw than a 60-yard touchdown throw. So keep that in mind as we’re going over this. I’m judging decision making, vision, pocket presence, accuracy, and velocity. Ok, let’s get this bad boy rolling.
Flick of the wrist
Naturally, the first play I show you is a bomb. Mayfield’s 1st throw of the game he got through his progressions and hit the receiver a little high, but it should’ve been caught. Count that as a drop. The 2nd play was a 54-yard touchdown. 3 things jump out at me here; going through your progressions, keeping your eyes downfield, & flicking your wrist for 60 yards effortlessly. Here’s the play:
Let’s talk about the progressions first. The route concept from top to bottom was post-out-flat. Judging by his helmet Mayfield wanted the out route. It’s cropped out, but it wasn’t open. He comes down to the flat route to the tight end and comes off that quickly. You can tell he knows the offense by how fast he’s going through his progressions. That’s a big deal. Instead of scrambling he keeps his eyes downfield and shows off patience in the pocket. So we’re 2 for 2 here. The process has been great and he hasn’t even thrown the ball. He sees the receiver has a step on the corner and with zero effort he heaves the ball 60 yards in the air downfield. That’s impressive. Some guys would need to crow hop and put everything they have into making that throw.
If you want to be nitpicky you’ll say that the ball is underthrown. I’m fine with the placement here. You don’t want to lead them out of bounds. Give him a chance to make a play since he already has position. An all-around hell of a play by Mayfield here.
I’m not going to go over every throw. Especially in an offense that throws as many screens as Oklahoma. A few throws later Mayfield has an NFL play. Texas comes with a nice designed blitz & end up getting a free runner. Watch Baker make magic.
I’m a huge fan of QB charts, but they can’t account for plays like this. Again, keeping his eyes downfield, even after avoiding a sack(not the only one he avoided this game.) I’m sensing a trend here. You can see Mayfield is going to take a shot with a linebacker breathing down his neck. You see some velocity here as he’s able to fit the ball into tight quarters between the corner and safety. Also a quick release. That’s a big boy play. Remarkable poise here.
There’s been a couple throws, especially on screens, where Mayfield is looking to get rid of it as quick as possible. Because of this, he’s throwing without his feet set and off platform. It’s not an issue on screens but it seems like Mayfield is forming bad habits and it shows up on other throws. He’s had a couple throws sail high on him because of his feet not being set or not stepping to his target. Even in the 4th quarter out of his own end zone, where he showed great poise, he had a ball overshoot the head of the receiver on a curl route. Just a note and something I’ll keep an eye out for. Without getting too nerdy/technical, Mayfield isn’t completely following through to his target. He’s more rising on to his tippy toes instead of generating torque. Something to keep in mind if you notice any loss of zip on his throws.
It’s a trap
For the 1st half, Texas did a good job of disguising blitzes. Frantic Mayfield showed up on this throw. It’s a blitz with 2 linebackers rushing up the middle. Mayfield thinks he sees a 3rd linebacker blitz and that’s why he throws hot to his running back on wheeling up the sideline. The backer peels off and picks up the running back. Interception.
That’s one Baker will want back. A key 4th down conversion in a 2-minute drill that leads to a turnover. In the NFL, what you get pre-snap isn’t what you’ll get post-snap a lot of the time. This is a big learning moment for Mayfield. This will be something else I’ll be looking out for now. A big no-no, nonetheless.
A couple series later Mayfield, with no pressure in his face, threw a slant right to an underneath defenders chest. It’s as if he just didn’t see him under the 5-step slant. He got away with one here.
Can you make a play
Mayfield tried to fit the ball into tight quarters to start the 4th. Neither of his throws paid off. It was less of a velocity issue and more of a separation issue. The next drive he gets the ball back down 1. You see some good habits here. #1 is climbing the pocket. There isn’t a rusher necessarily but you can tell Mayfield has a feel for what’s going on around him. Not frazzled by his surroundings he calmly steps up and throws the ball 35 yards on a rope to the WR for a 60 yard TD.
I’m all about forming good habits. You see it here with the pocket movement. Even if it is subtle. I haven’t had any concerns this game about Mayfield’s arm strength, either. A couple poor decisions and high throws held him back from having a great game. Still, there were plenty of traits displayed to make you believe Mayfield can get it done at the next level.
This will be a fun series moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see how consistent players are performing from game to game. Mayfield looked like a 1st rounder this game.