2018 NFL Draft Likely QB Crazy; Is Heisman Winner Mayfield Overlooked?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:22 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018 2:22 PM UTC

Quarterbacks will rule the 2018 NFL Draft with teams expected to select upwards of five or six in the first round. Current Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is moving up many boards. He offers plenty of value in a cache of proposition bets offered at top-rated online sportsbooks.

Richest QB Class In Years?

The 2018 NFL Draft is QB crazy. Hosts of teams are in dire need of a franchise player at the position, including the Browns, Jets, Bills, Redskins, and others. Fans could see a record number taken early. Bookmaker.eu set the over/under of signal callers drafted in the first round at 5.5 (+155). One has to go back to 1983, a class including John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, to uncover the only time more than five QBs were selected through the first 30 picks. Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien rounded out the class.

Can the 2018 pickings rival the storied ’83 group? The current media hype suggests yes. Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Josh Allen (Wyomng), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Luke Falk (Washington State), Riley Ferguson (Memphis) and Tanner Lee (Nebraska) all feature. The consensus is the top three picks will see a QB drafted for just the third time in NFL history (1971, 1999). Bookmaker has a prop for that: Yes (-125), No (-105). The Browns and Jets at No. 1 and No. 3 have tipped their hands and all but assured taking a QB with their picks. The Giants are the wild card here with the second choice. They need a successor to Eli Manning, but could use the spot as trade bait for a team like the Bengals or Dolphins looking to move up to get their guy. It’s almost a no-brainer this prop hits “yes.”

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Combine Whiteboard: Baker Mayfield gets personal with Steve Mariucci. #Soonerspic.twitter.com/LrBPTXOFGw

— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) March 5, 2018

Baker Mayfield Overlooked?

Whether one believes in the Heisman curse or not, it’s telling that the past two QB winners of the award, Mayfield (2017) and Jackson (2016), are not clear-cut favorites among their peers. Odds for first QB taken in the 2018 NFL Draft at Bookmaker are as follows:

  • Sam Darnold (-242)
  • Josh Allen (+128)
  • Baker Mayfield (+1376)
  • Josh Rosen (+1947)
  • Field (+6439)

BetOnline lists an over/under draft position for Mayfield at 6.5 (+170.-250) and Jackson at 17.5 (-200/+150). Jackson’s slide down the board is understandable, as he does not meet many traditional passing traits associated with NFL quarterbacks. Teams will likely have to build their offense around his strengths and abilities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: see Deshaun Watson and the Texans success' last season before Watson was injured. Jackson is arguably the most dynamic of any QB ever in the draft. A proper system, good coach, and improved footwork could land him in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Mayfield’s ranking among QB draftees is stunning. A collegiate star, he tossed for 81 TDs, 13 INTs and 8,305 passing yards with a 70.7 completion percentage in his final two years at Oklahoma. The numbers don’t lie. What’s the problem? Some are turned off by Mayfield’s attitude and behavior on and off the field, which includes a public intoxication and fleeing charge in Arkansas in 2017. No worries. We all do dumb things when we’re young. Mayfield is also a bit cocky and some say arrogant. Similar implications don’t trip up Tom Brady’s success, right? NFL columnist and former No. 1 pick David Carr makes the point that you have never heard a peep about Mayfield being a bad teammate. His demeanor may be polarizing, but his leadership qualities, motivation and toughness on the field are what counts. His swagger and personality is infectious behind the scenes.

Physically, Mayfield doesn’t have the strongest arm in the class, is a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, and guilty of sometimes getting happy feet in the pocket. For some, like ESPN’s chief college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who ranks Mayfield top of the incoming QB class, this doesn’t take away the fact he is the most accurate passer of the bunch and shows the best decision making. His football IQ is off the charts. Many situate Mayfield as a Russell Wilson/Drew Brees hybrid. Both of these NFL stars lacked the ideal measurables headed into the draft, but made it in their careers with strong leadership qualities and a unique level of competiveness. Mayfield fits the mold.

So, where will Mayfield go on draft day? Bookmaker.eu has a prop bet for that:

  • Dolphins (+317)
  • Ravens (+593)
  • Bengals (+654)
  • Cardinals (+764)
  • Field (-331)

Don’t rule out the Browns selecting Mayfield No. 1 overall. Coach Hue Jackson said all four top-rated choices are in play on Tuesday and the current Heisman winner is “no doubt still in the mix” despite earlier concerns about his image and demeanor. Speculation is swirling Darnold or Allen will go first. Darnold is the betting favorite, but the furthest away from starting in the NFL at 20 years old. Most of the teams jockeying for a signal caller near the top of the board need immediate help, like Cleveland, and Mayfield is easily the most league ready.

Expect to see Mayfield’s stock rise as more analysts that are guarded and closer to positions of power in NFL front offices heap praise on the current Heisman winner in the final week leading up to draft day. The Browns' sincere interest shows Mayfield is impressing in private workouts and in interviews. CBS Sports’ latest mock draft has Mayfield going No. 3 overall to the Jets as the second QB taken. There are plenty of signals coming out of the organization Mayfield is their man. It will not shock to see a team tempt the Giants with a sweet trade offer to leapfrog the Jets and steal Mayfield at No. 2 if the Browns pass. Mayfield has it. 'Under' a 5.5 draft selection is a gimme bet. One can also wager +400 at BetOnline that Mayfield is the second QB taken. Couple this with a +1376 as first selection, and profit nicely either way. Mayfield is coming off the board quicker than the market suggests. Bet on it.

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