Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Oklahoma Sooners quarterback prospect Baker Mayfield has a number of similarities to Drew Brees. The twist is that, at least physically, Mayfield fits another longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback’s profile: Chase Daniel.
Weigh-ins are going on all morning at the 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Combine, and Mayfield hit a couple of benchmarks teams were hoping to see: 6-feet and 5/8-inch tall, 215-pounds, and with 9-and 1/4-inch hands. Individually, each of those passes most thresholds teams have. Together, they come up with a rare combination that just three passers have met.
Jeff Feyerer is a writer for Inside the Pylon who specializes in historical sports data collection and analysis. His database goes back decades. When Mayfield’s official measurements came out, he was quick to identify the three quarterback prospects who best met that archetype:
- Drew Brees, Purdue Boilermakers
- Jake Kelchner, West Virginia Mountaineers
- Chase Daniel, Missouri Tigers
Kelchner wasn’t drafted out of college, though he did lead the Mountaineers to an undefeated 1993 season. He bounced between a few Arena League teams before looking to a career outside football.
As for the other two, it sure looks like Sean Payton has a type at quarterback. Brees is famous for producing at one of the highest levels ever despite his height disadvantage, and Daniel has stuck around for so long (despite stops with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles) largely because he fits a mold similar to Brees. Mayfield has spoken about his height not being an issue in the past:
“I’ve never really been able to see over the guys,” Mayfield says. “I just trust where they’re at and what I see in the defense. Nobody sees over the 6’ 8” left tackle. Even Josh Allen, [UCLA’s Josh] Rosen and [USC’s Sam] Darnold can’t see over that guy. You’re seeing concepts, and understanding timing. If you see the guy open, you’re late. You have to anticipate it.”
I’m sure we’re all very tired of the cliched “Mayfield is the next Brees because they’re both short” takes, and I agree with that. The reason those arguments are so prevalent is because Brees was an extremely similar prospect to Mayfield when he entered the NFL. Just check out this scouting report on Brees from the archives at NFLDraftScout.com:
Positives...A good athlete with mobility. Finds a way to wiggle out of trouble and can take off running for first downs. Not a sprinter but can’t be ignored as a runner...Solid arm strength. Demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can cut it loose down the field with enough velocity to hit receivers in stride...Shows quickness to get the ball out fast. No extra time taken when having to get rid of it. Serves him well when pressure is in his face...Accuracy and ball placement show up even when he’s on the run. Does a good job of not forcing his receivers to constantly adjust to the football in flight...Doesn’t lack for toughness. Took some pretty nasty shots in some games and kept getting back up for more. Teammates will approve of that...Can deliver some camera-juking pump fakes, indicating he likely has big hands. That will explain how he’s able to deliver the ball so well.
Negatives...Has lived in the shotgun his entire college career. Played in a classic spread offense. No idea how to play under center or take drops...Lack of size is going to be a concern. Though not extremely short, he’s giving up vital inches that will make vision and healthy primary questions at the next level...Somewhat reckless at times with his decision-making. Will throw into tight coverages, trusting in his accuracy that will lead to interceptions in the NFL...Can have a bad tendency to hold the football trying to keep plays alive. Opens him up to frequent hits and also fumbling the football.
Will Mayfield even be available for the Saints? Who knows. The Denver Broncos got a week with Mayfield in practice at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl, and they pick fifth overall. Mayfield has also been connected to teams like the New York Jets (picking sixth) and Miami Dolphins (picking eleventh). With the Saints waiting until twenty-seven to make their first selection, odds are slim Mayfield will wear black and gold.
But my personal favorite conspiracy theory/hope is that Mayfield will slip past those first few teams to be available when the Oakland Raiders are on the clock at either the ninth or tenth pick (they have to do a coin flip this Friday with the San Francisco 49ers to decide). Gruden and Payton have gotten on famously, and the Saints head coach could make a call to his longtime friend to orchestrate a trade similar to what we saw last year between the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills to go up and get Patrick Mahomes.
If Payton is as big a believer in Mayfield as he’s been rumored to be, the cost it took for the Chiefs to vault from twenty-seven to ten (a coincidence to this year’s Saints pick, surely) looks cheap: their first round picks in 2017 and 2018, and their 2017 third round pick (ninety-first overall, which the Saints happen to hold this year).