Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was one of the many people in the NFL world who could not believe their eyes when the New York Giants selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick.
The Jones pick was generally not well-received, both nationally and in New York, with some exceptions. The pick was so surprising that many — myself included — thought pre-draft reports of Jones going at No. 6 were a smokescreen. They were not.
Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, was among the majority of football fans who were shocked by that eventuality. Here’s what his reaction was to the pick on draft day, according to feature from GQ.
“I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. Blows my mind. … Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.”
It’s odd for Mayfield to be critical of Jones, because — aside from wins and losses in college — their stories are playing out quite similarly.
Mayfield should be able to empathize with Jones. The Browns’ decision to draft Mayfield blew the minds of most NFL media members, just like the Jones selection. Mayfield then put together enough strong performances in 2018 to begin winning over the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, Jones has not-so-quietly put together a pair of solid preseason outings, and has received rave reviews throughout the summer. Eli Manning should be feeling pressure from Jones, who began shifting public opinion in the months after the Giants drafted him.
Yes, Mayfield had a 39–9 record in college, and Jones had a 17–19 record at Duke. But that ignores the fact that Oklahoma is an offensive powerhouse where Mayfield was surrounded by future NFL talent. It also ignores the fact that Jones was the only player drafted from Duke in 2019. Quarterbacks don’t need to be undefeated in college — just look at Patrick Mahomes, who was 13-17 as a starter at Texas Tech.
What’s more, Mayfield doesn’t even have a winning record in the NFL — he was 6-7 in his rookie season. Admittedly, he’s one of the most promising young quarterbacks, and is on a team that has the talent to make a Super Bowl run. But Mayfield has to be careful when talking about the importance wins when he’s not yet a winning quarterback.
What makes a great quarterback, according to Mayfield? From GQ:
“Either you have a history of winning and being that guy for your team. or you don’t.”
Jones may turn out to be a bad quarterback. He may not. But if every scout applied Mayfield’s simplistic philosophy, the evaluation of quarterbacks would be even worse than it already is in the NFL.