The Denver Broncos drafting Baker Mayfield would be historic

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 27: Baker Mayfield
MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 27: Baker Mayfield /

The 2018 NFL Draft is three weeks away, and the Denver Broncos are reportedly interested in Baker Mayfield. How would his top 5 selection be historic?

The 2018 NFL Draft is three weeks away and mock drafts have a few different players mocked to the Broncos at number five overall. A few recent mock drafts have Denver taking Oklahoma’s Heisman trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, which was discussed in more detail by Predominantly Orange writer Sayre Bedinger last week.

Taking Mayfield at number five in the 2018 NFL Draft would be an unprecedented move according to recent history.

Mayfield was a truly dynamic quarterback in college making plays within the pocket and more notably, creating incredible highlight reel plays out of the pocket. In today’s NFL, however, he doesn’t fit the norm.

Standing at 6’1″, Mayfield would be one of five starting quarterbacks in the NFL that are 6’1″ or shorter (Case Keenum, Tyrod Taylor, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson). The remaining 27 starting quarterbacks stand between 6’2” and 6’6”.

According to, since the 2000 draft class (the one that included Tom Brady) there have been 195 quarterbacks added to the league. 29 were below 6’1” (14%), and only 17 of those 29 were drafted (57%). Compare this to 166 quarterbacks above 6’1” (86%) with 149 of those being drafted (90%).

One trend that is common among shorter quarterbacks is they have been athletic or fast. With Mayfield, the story does not play out that way. Out of 17 drafted quarterbacks shorter than 6’1″, only five of them ran the 40-yard dash as slow as Baker Mayfield’s 4.84.

To break down this tiny population of NFL players further, only six out of the 17 drafted have been drafted in round one or two (Michael Vick, Marques Tuiasosopo, Johnny Manziel, Pat White, Rex Grossman, and Drew Brees). That group has combined for 15 total Pro Bowl appearances with 11 of those coming from Brees and the rest coming from Vick.

The other four players combined for just 19 total NFL seasons. That isn’t very good odds for success in the minds of GMs making a first round draft pick, and this certainly doesn’t help Mayfield’s case.

When you add in the “off-field” concerns and controversial comparisons to another former Texas high school football star, there are quite a few cards stacked against Mayfield’s deck. When you account for draft position, height, and speed, Mayfield would be the highest selected quarterback measuring 6’1″ or less that runs a 40-yard dash at 4.34 or slower (Michael Vick was taken 1st overall while Grossman and Manziel were both taken at 22).

So why would the Broncos be interested in a player like this?

  • Mayfield is a better pure thrower who is incredibly accurate. Pro Football Focus introduced a new metric for tracking quarterback accuracy which accounts for actual ball placement. Mayfield scored better than all of the top quarterbacks in this years draft.
  • He’s football smart. As

    "Goldman declined to confirm the performance of specific players, but did acknowledge a QB prospect this year scored in the top 100 on the AIQ all-time—out of more than 4,000 tests—and is the second-highest scoring quarterback out of 63 who have taken the test since 2012. Two league sources, who asked for anonymity to discuss the testing results of a  prospect, confirmed it was Mayfield."

  •  His game is not predicated on making plays with his legs which can be seen by his 2.8 YPC average and his 297 average rushing yards per season in his three seasons at Oklahoma. This makes him more comparable to Kirk Cousins (179 yards in 2017 for a 3.7 YPC average) than Cam Newton (754 yards in 2017 for a 5.4 YPC average)
  • More from Predominantly Orange

    Height can be overcome—just watch Drew Brees on almost every passing down, and speed isn’t nearly as important to a quarterback’s success if he is more apt to make plays with his arm than his legs.

    Besides, a quarterback is rarely running a straight line, quickness is more important and Mayfield’s seven second three cone shuttle drill places him in the 60th percentile of all quarterbacks (for reference, Russell Wilson’s 3threecone shuttle time was 6.97 seconds).

    The Denver Broncos drafting Baker Mayfield at number five overall would be historic as it would be for any team drafting Baker Mayfield in the top 10 due to his height and speed. Going against history would be the right move for whatever team pulls the trigger.

    Mayfield, despite his perceived shortcomings, is one of the top quarterback prospects this year and can be a franchise-changing pick for whatever team selects him.

    Hopefully, it’s the Broncos.