Fact or Fiction: Baker Mayfield

Ryan Cearfoss

Enough is enough with the lazy draft analysis when it comes to comparing Baker Mayfield to former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Both are undersized quarterbacks with who won Heisman trophies so they are automatically viewed in the same light. Let’s take a look at this in context to see if this is truly the case.

Off the Field Antics

I want to get this one out of the way first because this is one of the most talked about comparison and probably the most egregious of the bunch. Both players have big personalities and have had a reputation due to it.  Baker Mayfield has had one of the field incident getting a public intoxication and disorderly conduct in February of 2017 in which he served community serious and nothing happened again.  Manziel also was arrested drunk with a fake ID card and disorderly conduct. The difference is Mayfield hasn’t had any occurrences since. Since then Johhny Football has been suspended for accepting money for autographs in college and in the NFL for having over $1000 in drug paraphernalia, arrested again for public intoxication, domestic violence, been to rehab and have had his parents comment on how he couldn’t handle the off the field life he lives.

One event of a college student haven’t too much to drink with Mayfield immediately gets compared to a series of events for Manziel is ridiculous. If there are multiple occurrences maybe this could be warranted but there isn’t so that’s the end of it.


Both players were everything to their respected teams but both led in different ways. Even if you look how they came into college it starts there. Jonny Manziel came to Texas A&M on a full scholarship and a starter right out of the gate. Coming into College Station as a freshman he took the world by storm becoming the first true freshman to ever win the Heisman trophy. His dynamic play led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl win against Oklahoma. He ended up playing one more season for A&M where his team went 9-4 and his overall numbers digressed before heading to the NFL.

On the flip side as a freshman Baker Mayfield also set a record being the first true freshman walk-on to become a starting quarterback for a major college program. He played extremely well at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma as a walk-on where he also earned the starting spot.  In his 3 years at Oklahoma, he went 33-4 as a starter and was a Heisman finalist three times finally winning it as a senior.

As well as his own awards Mayfield made his teammates better helping Dede Westbrook win the Biletnikoff award in 2016 and Mark Andrews win the Mackey award in 2017. He helps both become the best receiver and tight end in the country. Neither of which has the raw talent of Johnny football’s number one receiver in Mike Evans.

Mayfield was a 4 year NCAA starter which gave him experience and proves that he wanted to better himself as a quarterback before taking the next step. He has now taken his team to the college football playoffs twice and only has lost 4 games as a starter at Oklahoma. It is absolutely ridiculous to question the leadership of a quarterback who leads his teams to that amount of wins.  Yes, there were times where he got overly excited and may have crossed a line, yet people aren’t talking about the time or toss plays and read options where he gets out in front and puts his body on the line blocking for a running back. Standing in the pocket taking massive hits to complete passes to his receivers.  His teammates played harder and wanted to win and gravitated to him.

Style of Play

This is the first part of the comparison that people are saying is the same between Mayfield and Manziel is their style of play. Both quarterbacks are known for playing outside of the pocket and creating in the midst of chaos. This portion of the comparison is true, both quarterbacks thrived when things broke down and made plays for their respected teams but the way they did it couldn’t be more different. Manziel was a runner when he left the pocket and an extremely good one, his freshman year when he won the Heisman he rushed the ball for 1410 yards and 21 touchdowns.  In Mayfield’s 4 seasons as a starting QB, he ran for 1083 yards combined and 21 touchdowns. Proving a huge difference that Mayfield only runs when he has no other options and it is a few a far between occurrence.  Outside of the pocket Mayfield always keeps his eyes downfield looking for the pass first and doing so with precision only running if it is the last option.


This is the true separating point between Baker Mayfield and Jonny Manziel and possibly most quarterbacks in recent memory. Baker Mayfield plays in a pass-heavy offense in which he makes move like clockwork. Not only did he lead the NCAA with a ridiculous completion percentage of 70 it was his second straight year doing it. To go with his completion percentage he averaged over 11.5 yards an attempt and only had 6 interceptions. From just a passing perspective here is a look at Mayfield compared to Manziel in their Heisman winning season.

Player Yards Att/Gm Comp % Yard/Comp Td Int TD/Int Rate QBR
Mayfield 4627 28.9 70.5 11.5 43 6 7.1 198.9
Manziel 3706 33 68 8.5 26 9 2.8 155.3

Manziel did add 1400 rushing yards to his total but as a pure Quarterback which is what NFL teams are looking at it is not even close.  Mayfield was historically accurate having one of the best season of all time for a passer. His TD/Int ratio of 7.1 blows away the majority of quarterbacks all time. The incredible part this was not a one-year thing, Mayfield grew as a passer every single season improving his craft to become a complete quarterback. In his three seasons as a starter, he threw for 119 touchdowns to only 21 INTs never throwing for double-digit interceptions in a season during his career.

This type of efficiency for a quarterback is unbelievable, it’s even more so when you take into account of his time he spends outside of the pocket on the run. Taking an even closer look when this happens Mayfield does quickly reset and put himself into position to make the right throw and make it accurately. In the spread offense, he runs it helps lead to a lot of wide open passes giving his receivers room to run he still manages to read progressions and make the right decision not forcing the ball where it shouldn’t be.

The other proving point with the accuracy that makes Mayfield even more impressive is his aver yards of completion is three yards more than Manziel at 11.5 yards per completion. Meaning he’s averaging over a first down every time he completes a pass to his receiver which is absolutely ridiculous. While the accuracy was close Mayfield was throwing farther and creating more opportunities tied with fewer interceptions and far more touchdowns than Manziel.


One of the biggest things with the draft season is trying to figure out what is real news and what is bogus. Players saying they want to play somewhere can be taken out of context, comments will be taken wrong and exaggerated and terrible comparisons will be made.  Comparing two quarterbacks who are the “same size” and won the same award is a lazy attempt that can be taken too far and ruins the connotations of a young talented signal caller.  Before listening to someone’s opinion watch the player yourself and figure out what you think, the nice thing about technology it’s easy to find film and see what a special player Baker Mayfield is and how exciting he is as a prospect.

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