Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield made his NFL preseason debut on Thursday night, and the Cleveland Browns have to be encouraged by what they saw from the quarterback after using the No. 1 overall draft pick on him in April.
The Oklahoma product entered Cleveland’s game against the New York Giants in the final minute of the first quarter, and completed 11-of-20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 13 yards on three carries and turned all three plays into first downs.
Mayfield’s first pass was… not great:
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) August 9, 2018
But he quickly settled down and made a few big-time throws, including a touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku with 6:43 to go in the second quarter:
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) August 10, 2018
Baker Mayfield finds space between three defenders for his first NFL TD pic.twitter.com/o7zp8flSgg
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 10, 2018
Mayfield showed off excellent poise in the pocket and feel for pressure, as well as the throwing accuracy he was known for at Oklahoma. You can see the accuracy with the ball placement on this slant to Antonio Callaway that became a 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter:
Baker Mayfield throws a bullet to Callaway for a 54-yard TD pic.twitter.com/2IdHmFCcef
— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) August 10, 2018
That touchdown came after Mayfield and Callaway teamed up for a ridiculous play in the third quarter. Mayfield avoided pressure and threw a dime downfield on the run, and Callaway made a terrific sideline grab:
— Jeff D Lowe (@JeffDLowe) August 10, 2018
And finally, here’s every pass and carry Mayfield had in the game:
Yes, most of these plays came against second and third-stringers, and it will be hard to conclude too much until we see Mayfield doing it in regular-season games.
But for a rookie quarterback’s first NFL action, there was a lot to like. And if he keeps making progress in the coming weeks, he’ll put a lot of pressure on Tyrod Taylor for the Browns’ starting quarterback job.
Expect to see much more on Mayfield’s strong debut in the second episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.