Baker Mayfield was certainly a bold pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Of all the quarterbacks available, I would have liked to have Mayfield or Lamar Jackson the most because the flaws of the other three scare me more.
Josh Allen is not an accurate passer.
Sam Darnold turns the ball over too much.
Josh Rosen brings injury concerns.
There are no perfect prospects, but those are three things that are hard to fix.
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I’m curious how low Cleveland could have gotten Mayfield (maybe he wouldn’t have been there at four), but I guess we’ll never know.
As I wrote yesterday, teams usually want to max out physical ability with those high picks, but the Browns didn’t necessarily do that with either Mayfield or Denzel Ward, the Ohio State cornerback they chose with the No. 4 pick.
Of course I like the NFL potential of both of them, and if they are part of the Browns’ rebirth no one will care who else they could have had on draft night.
Ward can fly, but he’s not the biggest guy so there are some concerns about his durability.
Mayfield is accurate with plenty of arm strength and the ability to break the pocket and make plays, but life outside the pocket can be dangerous in the NFL. And if you can’t win in the pocket, you’re done.
Obviously Mayfield’s swagger is going to be a turn off for some. I feel like it will be an asset for him to help the Browns put years of losing behind them...
As for the Cincinnati Bengals, picking Billy Price looks like a home run.
On the field, Price can turn a weakness into strength in the middle of the line.
He should also be a strong presence in a locker room that lost offensive line leader Andrew Whitworth a year ago.
That’s even more important for a team that doesn’t appear to get much leadership from its head coach or the quarterback position.
Offensive line can be a tough area to fix in just one year, but the Bengals just might have pulled it off by acquiring Cordy Glenn from the Bills and drafting Price. They essentially got two likely starters for the No. 12 pick, which is an amazing turnaround considering how quickly the line fell apart a year ago.
Now they are in position to freely go with the best players on the board with their last 10 picks, and since they don’t really need 10 picks, they can package some to move up if the opportunity arises.
Speaking of moving up:
While I love the Bengals’ pick of Price, it’s hard to ignore what the Baltimore Ravens did to cap round one.
GM Ozzie Newsome filled a need at No. 25 with a tight end then traded back into the first round to get a potential franchise quarterback of the future in Lamar Jackson.
They had to pay a price, but it will be minuscule if it pays off.
The Ravens are a little like the Bengals in that they have a veteran starter who is both entrenched and embattled.
Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco should both be around for at least a little while, but they won’t be there forever.
Dalton had a better year for the Bengals statistically than Flacco did for the Ravens last year, but of course the narrative around the two is skewed heavily by Flacco having a bigger arm and a Super Bowl ring.
(Pro Football Focus rated Dalton higher than Flacco, too).
The question with Flacco has always been consistency, but he’s gotten it done one more time than Dalton has when it matters most.
I’m not sure either of them is a true franchise quarterback because neither of them have shown they can lead a team that is down like an Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger.
Regardless of who has the higher ceiling moving forward, Dalton and Flacco are both at worst average NFL quarterbacks who have flexible contract situations. That means their teams are better off with them than without them, and Baltimore and Cincinnati can also be proactive in finding their eventual replacements.
The Ravens did that last night.
Will the Bengals any time soon?
They won’t get a guy like Jackson now because he’s off the board and prospects like him only come along every 20 years or so, but there are some good developmental options still on the board.
If they didn’t take Jackson, I wouldn’t expect them to get one in the second or third rounds, either, but Toledo’s Logan Woodside or even Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett are intriguing long-term options on day three.
They got to see Barrett up close a week ago, and Woodside is a Kentucky native who said at the NFL Scouting Combine getting to learn behind a guy like Dalton would be “an ideal situation.”