Can 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield become the next Drew Brees?
Listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network think so. In our weekly poll, we asked our followers to vote on the quarterback they would most like to have in the 2018 NFL draft and offered up a pair of Heisman Trophy winners among the options – Mayfield and 2016 winner Lamar Jackson -- plus underclassmen Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.
Mayfield, who is generously listed at only 6-foot-1, received 37 percent of the vote, followed by Darnold at 21 percent and Rosen at 19 percent, Allen with 16 percent and Jackson at six percent.
What Mayfield may lack in size he made up for in productivity. He led the NCAA in passing last season at Oklahoma with a 198.9 efficiency rating. A former walk-on at two schools (Texas Tech and Oklahoma), Mayfield finished second in the nation in both passing yards (4,627) and touchdowns (43) last season and fifth in total offense with an average of 352.7 yards per game.
Mayfield also passed for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2016 and 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2015. He threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns against Oklahoma State in 2017, 386 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State and 333 yards and three touchdowns against TCU.
But the three Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – weren’t as sold on Mayfield as the listenership and readership. Borges voted for Jackson, Gosselin for Allen and Judge for Darnold.
“I'll take my chances with Jackson,” Borges said. “He'll cost less, has improved his accuracy, is mobile and has yet to be arrested or shoot his mouth off like Baker Mayfield.”
Jackson led the NCAA in total offense at Louisville in 2017 with 404.7 yards per game. He passed for 3,660 yards, with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and also rushed for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished sixth in the NCAA in rushing last season.
Allen fits the NFL prototype for the position at 6-5, 240. Like Jackson, Darnold and Rosen, he’s leaving a year of eligibility on the table at Wyoming to turn pro.
“If you liked Ben Roethlisberger (Miami-Ohio) and Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) coming out,” Gosselin said, “you’ll like Allen. He has the measurables without the advantage of having played at a Power 5 school. He's upside potential is immense.”
A two-year starter at Southern Cal, Darnold passed for 3,086 yards, with 31 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in 2016, then passed for 4,143 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017.
"I wish he'd stay one more year," Judge said, "but Darnold comes from a pro system, can make all the throws and has terrific upside ... given the right situation. Frankly, I'd love to see him go somewhere he can sit and learn ... because he's going to need it."