Baker Mayfield: Browns Reveal Why They Made QB the Number One Draft Pick

Cleveland Browns first round and overall number one pick in the NFL draft Baker Mayfield answers questions during a press conference at the Cleveland Browns training facility on April 27. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns made a quarterback the overall number one pick of the NFL draft last week but it was not the name many expected.

Having passed on Carston Wentz in 2016 and on Deshaun Watson last year, the Browns delivered a major surprise by selecting Baker Mayfield from University of Oklahoma at number one when mock drafts had indicated they would pick either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen.

Instead, the former went to the New York Jets as the overall number three pick, while the latter was selected at number seven by the Buffalo Bills.

On Monday, Alonzo Highsmith, Cleveland V.P. of player personnel, admitted Darnold was indeed top of the Browns' list.

"From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2, [Josh] Rosen No. 3, [Lamar] Jackson No. 4 and [Josh] Allen after that," he told Browns fans at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club, as reported by the Canton Repository. "On our way through everything, you couldn't tell me Darnold wasn't the best. I did all my evaluations of the season."

During three seasons in Oklahoma, Mayfield threw for an average of 4,001 yards, 39 touchdowns and 6.6 interceptions, but what prompted the Browns to select a player which some had expected to go as low as 11th in the draft picking order?

"Then comes the part where you meet them off the field," Highsmith said. "You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive. And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy.

"That includes the power to affect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there."

Highsmith's version echoes that of Browns' head coach Hue Jackson, who said over the weekend he only came to appreciate the former Oklahoma student after the NFL Combine at the beginning of March.

"I'm being very honest," Jackson was quoted as saying by CBS. "It started at the combine, just talking to him and listening to some of the things he said…Baker Mayfield is, from a football IQ standpoint, is as good as I've been around. He has a tremendous arm talent, more so than I think anybody knows. Obviously he's proven he's very accurate with the football and I really think he's a tremendous leader."

Mayfield will have to display all those qualities in his first season in the NFL, as the Browns aim to bounce back from a dismal campaign, which saw them become only the second team since the Detroit Lions in 2009 to finish with a 0-16 record.

However, Cleveland fans have reasons to be optimistic as they also landed Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward as fourth overall pick, Nevada guard Austin Corbett and Georgia running-back Nick Chubb at number 33 and 35 respectively in the NFL draft.

Additionally, new general manager John Dorsey has been busy during the off-season, and the Browns have welcomed the arrival of quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a third-round draft pick, while safety Damarious Randall and offensive lineman Chris Hubbard arrived from the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback T.J. Carrier have joined from the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders respectively, and the Browns should have enough talent to target a playoff spot in the coming season.