The Cleveland Browns head into the first game of the 2019 season with tons of promise to continue to improve the former laughingstock franchise into a playoff contender. With that, there are key players that are especially needed to make that improvement.
Discover which other players are important to the Cleveland Browns in 2019:
Without further ado, we enter the top spot. The player leading the charge leads the list of the Cleveland Browns most important players in 2019: quarterback Baker Mayfield.
2018 NFL Draft
With the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/2gNsc0UnKD
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 27, 2018
Coming off an 0-16 2017 season, the Cleveland Browns earned the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. At various points in the pre-draft build-up, the Browns had reportedly been eyeing one of the talented quarterbacks in what was considered the most talented quarterback class in years.
The reports that were the Browns were considering USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen; however, the Browns selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with their top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Mayfield went 33-6 as a three-year starter for the Sooners. Mayfield, a former walk-on at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma, played three seasons for the Sooners after transferring from Texas Tech University following his freshman year. In that span, Mayfield amassed 14,607 passing yards and 131 touchdowns, only throwing 30 interceptions. Mayfield was also very accurate with the football, completing 68.5 percent of his passes overall.
He is coming off a Heisman season, during which he completed 70.5 percent of his passes and produced 4,627 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes, and he was Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked quarterback prospect entering the draft.
New Browns general manager John Dorsey loved Mayfield for some time, and he believed that Mayfield was the type of player that can overcome the 1-31 record the past two seasons for the Browns. Dorsey explains why Mayfield was the obvious choice over the other young talented quarterbacks:
“With regards to Baker’s ability, I thought he has great accuracy, I think he has a quick release, he’s got feet to extend the play, he’s got a strong enough arm,” Dorsey said. “Statistically, you look at the statistics that he has, he was one or two in all these different categories. And then when you watch his teammates galvanize to him at certain parts of the game, you know this guy’s got a little bit of ‘it’ factor.”
The Browns have started 28 quarterbacks since they returned in 1999, but the confident Baker Mayfield believes he can make the team a winner.
“I think if anybody’s going to turn that franchise around it would be me,” he said. “They’re close. They’re very close. They have the right pieces. I think they just need one guy, a quarterback to make that difference.”
Mayfield makes his mark in his NFL debut
— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2018
Coming into a 2018 Week 3 matchup on Thursday night the Browns had gone 1-32-1 for head coach Hue Jackson. Then Baker Mayfield happened.
Tyrod Taylor, who was signed during the offseason, started the prime time game against the New York Jets. He was 4-for-14 passing for 19 yards and took three sacks for a loss of 22 yards. Unfortunately, Taylor had to leave the game with a concussion in the second quarter with the Browns trailing 14-0.
Mayfield came off the bench to make his pro debut and was brilliant. He transformed the offense. Baker rallied the Browns back into the game and led a game-winning touchdown drive that Carlos Hyde capped with a go-ahead touchdown just ahead of the two-minute warning.
The Browns won 21-17 with Baker finishing the night 17-for-23 for 201 yards.
Mayfield woke up this team AND the city of Cleveland with this win. It was the first win in 635 days! He showed why he was the top pick in the draft. He made plays with his legs, made great throws, and even caught a two-point conversion on a trick play.
Pro Football Focus gave Mayfield its highest game score of any rookie quarterback in a debut game since the site began grading QB play in 2006.
Woke up feeling dangerous
Baker Mayfield woke up feeling dangerous.
— ESPN (@espn) November 16, 2018
Baker Mayfield started for the remainder of the season and continued to exhibit the confidence and leadership that John Dorsey noticed and the NFL personnel believed in.
Less than a week after the team’s front office parted ways with former head coach Hue Jackson; the team was facing the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 10 matchup. With interim head coach Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, the Browns were looking for a spark after four consecutive losses.
The Cleveland Browns took care of business by defeating the Falcons 28-16. The Browns rookie quarterback threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
When asked about his impressive performance, the rookie QB admitted in his postgame press conference, “when I woke up this morning, I was feeling pretty dangerous.”
Mayfield continued his dangerous play throughout his record-breaking season.
Mayfield broke the rookie passing TD record
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) December 31, 2018
Mayfield made NFL history during the Browns 26-24 Week 17 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, throwing his 27th touchdown pass of the season and setting the NFL rookie record. That touchdown pass also extended Mayfield’s streak of games with a touchdown pass to 13, fifth-longest in Browns’ history.
His 27 touchdowns came in just 13 starts. He did not play the first two games before taking over for a concussed Tyrod Taylor in the third game against the Jets.
The team did a complete turnaround immediately after the insertion of Mayfield in the lineup. Mayfield was especially outstanding down the stretch with Freddie Kitchens, now the head coach, calling the plays. As the Browns reeled off five wins in their final seven games, Mayfield ranked third in touchdown passes (17), fourth in passer rating (108.4) and first in yards per attempt (8.86) among those with 200-plus passes.
More importantly for the rookie Mayfield, he led the Browns to a 7-8-1 record in 2018. The former Sooner resurrected a Browns franchise after consecutive seasons of failure and utters confidence and promise as the Browns head into 2019.
Browns seeking playoff berth in 2019
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) March 27, 2019
Looking at Mayfield’s 2018 numbers, you have to be impressed.
After Freddie Kitchens took over as the interim offensive coordinator, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
What does Baker Mayfield do for an encore?
There were significant changes to the Browns offense for the 2019 season. Most importantly, Freddie Kitchens has been named the Browns head coach along with bringing in Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator.
These moves are the best-case scenario for Mayfield. He was the most successful while Kitchens was running the show. Look for Mayfield to take his play to an even higher level in 2019.
General manager John Dorsey wanted to surround his franchise quarterback with more weapons. Dorsey accomplished this by adding elite wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade with the New York Giants.
According to NFL.com, since entering the league in 2014, Beckham ranks third in receiving yards per game (92.8) and third in receiving touchdowns (44). That’s with Beckham missing several games each year too.
In Cleveland, Beckham will rejoin good friend and former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry to form one of the most potent wide receiver tandems in the league.
The Browns also added Cleveland native running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt is suspended for eight games for violating conduct policy. He is a dynamic playmaker out of the backfield who led the league in rushing yards with 1,327 yards as a rookie in 2017.
There are sky-high expectations of Baker and his arsenal of weapons, which includes Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, tight end David Njoku and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt out of the backfield.
Baker Mayfield is the most valuable player on the Cleveland Browns.
His swagger is taking the Browns to heights that they have never experienced. His accomplishments in his rookie season were nothing short of outstanding. Leading a dismal franchise to the brink of the playoffs after continuous losing is a humongous feat.
This season, he gets to throw to Beckham and watch Hunt make plays out of the backfield. Nick Chubb will expand his role in this offense, and you have to believe that Mayfield is looking at the Browns weapons like fantasy owners look at their rosters.
Watch out for Baker Mayfield! He will be even MORE dangerous in 2019!