Ryan Leaf sees bust potential in Baker Mayfield

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Twenty years after Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf became the first and second overall picks in the draft, one player is largely silent — and the other keeps on talking. But the one who many would say should be talking isn’t, and the one who many would say shouldn’t be talking is.

Leaf, who deserves plenty of credit for turning his life around after a lengthy battle with addiction, has plenty of opinions for a guy who washed out of the league without doing much other than taking millions from the Chargers, millions that could have gone to other far more deserving players. And people keep listening to, and repeating, what Leaf has to say.

Most recently, Ryan Leaf suggested that, of the five guys at the top of the quarterback class in 2018, Baker Mayfield reminds Ryan Leaf the most of the 1998 version of Ryan Leaf.

“A good litmus test for me is always when I listen to radio interviews or TV interviews, I tend to close my eyes and just listen to the voice, and hear the answer. I always say, ‘If it sounds like the 1998 version of Ryan Leaf, there’s definitely a red flag that needs to be raised there,” Leaf said during an appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, via the New York Daily News.

My first reaction to these comments were this: Why do we care what Ryan Leaf has to say about anything? Collectively, the media keeps giving a platform and a voice to a guy who did absolutely nothing in the NFL, simply because he turned his life around and because he’s willing to speak on radio and TV. But then I realized that one major positive factor comes from seeing and hearing Leaf in the weeks preceding the draft: It serves as a reminder that, despite all of glowing assessments of draft-eligible players aimed consciously or not at stoking the fire of plausible hope for fans of every team, there will be busts. Plenty of busts. Colossal busts. But the draft experts rarely mention that there will be busts, because they can’t answer the next logical question, “Who will they be?”

Leaf, unlike most of the people who are talking about the incoming draft class, is willing to try to answer that question. Though his method may be far less than scientific, his views merit consideration. Last year, for example, Leaf flagged Deshaun Watson as the most impressive of the incoming quarterbacks, and Leaf was right.

Despite Leaf’s lack of significant playing experience (he started 21 career games), he knows a thing or two about quarterbacks booming or busting because he busted unlike any other. And his most recent comments about Mayfield weren’t the first time Leaf spoke about the 2017 Heisman winner.

“I think, probably, the comparison with me is more appropriate,” Leaf said last month on FOX Sports Radio. “The highly competitive, borderline arrogant, angry individual. . . . The biggest thing for me will be how he deals with failure. That’s where my downfall was, when things began to fall apart, how I was able to deal with that. When the media is on you, you play a bad game, your whole city is on you, that’s where we’ll see where Baker Mayfield is at. . . .  Right now there’s no evidence to back up that when things get tough, he won’t break.”

Leaf broke in a more significant and notorious way than most young players ever have. He knows the signs, he knows the patterns. He’s taking his own experiences and he’s trying to predict whether other young quarterbacks are behaving the way he did.

Not that it will matter. As Leaf explained it a year ago on PFT Live, the 1998 version of himself would have ignored any advice the older Ryan Leaf would have offered. But Leaf is providing a useful voice during the typically hype-filled pre-draft process — a voice shaped by the experience of entering the league as a top pick and failing spectacularly.

Others who have done the same should consider doing the same. By embracing and understanding what went wrong for them, draft picks who busted can explain the factors, outline the warning signs, and above all else remind everyone that it’s highly unlikely that, for example, all five quarterbacks expected to be picked in round one will end up making it in the NFL.

48 responses to “Ryan Leaf sees bust potential in Baker Mayfield

  1. “Last year, for example, Leaf flagged Deshaun Watson as the most impressive of the incoming quarterbacks, and Leaf was right.”

    While I am by no means trying to be critical of Watson, as he definitely deserves the praise he has received, we should probably slow down on anointing him as “the best” before Patrick Mahommes even has a chance to play.

  2. Baker Mayfield IS a BUST waiting to happen. He will be taken way too high and will flame out quickly. Just watch

  3. Two questions, why is anyone asking him these questions? And why is anyone listening? Leaf wasn’t just a bust at playing QB, he is a bust at life.

  4. Mahomes is a future HOFer. Just wait and see. As far as Deshaun Watson, well just refer to RGIII. No difference between the two and their careers will mirror each other, just watch

  5. redislander10 says:
    April 14, 2018 at 12:59 pm
    “Last year, for example, Leaf flagged Deshaun Watson as the most impressive of the incoming quarterbacks, and Leaf was right.”

    While I am by no means trying to be critical of Watson, as he definitely deserves the praise he has received, we should probably slow down on anointing him as “the best” before Patrick Mahommes even has a chance to play.

    I don’t fundamentally disagree but as of right now, Deshaun Watson is the most impressive of the incoming QBs. He was MVP material before the injury, which is more impressive than holding a clipboard. I wish Mahommes well, but honestly I do not think he will be as electric, if only because he plays in an Andy Reid offense.

  6. The thing is, djcologne, Leaf knows he’s the pot. While I wouldn’t base everything on what he says, if I were a front office person I would want to know about his perspective.

  7. The NFL teams that might draft Baker Mayfield should listen to Ryan Leaf to the extent that they can look at their staff to see if somebody has the capacity to help Mayfield through the rough patches that inevitably occur in the NFL. At the same time, it does not necessarily have to be a coach or other administrative person as the experience of Tyrann Matthieu and Patrick Peterson proved in Arizona.

  8. I agree. I appreciate the fact Leaf has been willing to do a lot of self reflection and can attempt to pinpoint the “intangible” assets that a player may or may not possess. His opinion on that area is more valid than these draft experts who have no experience walking in those shoes.

  9. Since when has Ryan Leaf become an “Expert” on QB’s coming out in the draft? I will give him credit. Afterall he does know the Definition of a 1st round BUST

  10. Well every prospects have some bust potential, even the guys analysts wants to claim are the safest prospects(Jonathan Cooper, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, Chance Warmack, Luke Joeckel, Vernon Gholston, Aaron Curry, Laken Tomlinson).

  11. Can’t wait for Johnny Footballs opinion in about ten years about who’s going to be a bust.

  12. Ha-ha. I’m a lifelong Sooner fan. I’ve seen exactly two Sooner QB’s who I thought could play in the NFL; Bradford and Mayfield.
    It’s hard to predict who will live up to the hype, but they have the ability. Sometimes it’s just availability, sometimes it’s desire. This comment will fuel Mr. Mayfield, I’m sure. Too bad Mr. Leaf didn’t have it.

  13. Mayfield walked on twice, and he took the job twice. He lives, breathes, and sleeps football.

    I think Mayfield is a complete ahole, but don’t mix up his over-the-top competitiveness with Ryan Leaf’s self-destructive pattern of addiction. Mayfield and Leaf are nothing like one another.

  14. why does anyone care what Ryan Leaf has to say? Because he was a bust now he can spot one! Baker could throw left handed and grab his crotch every game and still be less of a bust than Leaf!!!!

  15. Personally I have learned more from mistakes I’ve made in life than otherwise. Seeing that Leaf has apparently taken the appropriate steps to turn his life around, I would submit he has an unique perspective on the subject.

  16. Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach.

    The majority of NFL scouts, coaches and GM’s are all former players that were either not good enough to play in the NFL or not good enough to stick with a team. The fact that someone would discount the experiences Leaf has gone through just because he was a bust is asinine. An addict can spot another addict from a mile away. They can also see the warning signs most of us would overlook.

  17. At least Leaf knows that he was terrible and can now admit it. Was it the losing of millions of dollars or the fact that jail can rehabilitate some people? I’m still not sure why he is given a platform to express his views. Not quite the same story with Johnny Failball. Blaming Cleveland for his lack of success on not doing their homework? You are the one that didn’t do your homework, or study the playbook, or learn to read a defense. But if he keeps piling up the stats in the intramural/jv league, I’m sure people will be lining up to hear the wisdom of doormat.

  18. Ryan Leaf had a very poor work ethic which is the exact opposite of Mayfield who lives, breathes football. Being a walk on, being undersized he had to work hard to for his success. The Browns will regret passing on him.

  19. u4icgroov says:
    April 14, 2018 at 2:49 pm
    Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach.

    The majority of NFL scouts, coaches and GM’s are all former players that were either not good enough to play in the NFL or not good enough to stick with a team

    Mostly true, but they are the people that understand all facets of the game and played with heart, but weren’t blessed with the over-the-top athletic ability. Being a great athlete but a pudding brain, will not get you a job as a scout, coach or GM.

  20. If I were Mayfield I’d troll him and post on his twitter or whatever ‘Dont troll me like that!!!’

  21. He might just be a better scout than any other offensive guru.. He WAS a bust , he knows what to look for. Nobody will know for 2 or 3 years. I he is right he might be a HOT commodity in the NFL… Or just another bust at scouting…

  22. I actually appreciate hearing analysis from Ryan Leaf as, unlike all the draft “experts”, Ryan Leaf doesn’t give only glowing projections on players that are to be drafted. I find Ryan Leaf’s prespective interesting because he is uniquely qualified to speak on the mindset of players that are at risk of ending up as draft busts. It takes a pretty unique individual, who flamed out in the NFL as spectacularly as Leaf did, to speak to candidly. Its unlikely JaMarcus Russell would speak so openly and honestly on the subject.

  23. Ryan Leaf is like the weird uncle who starts showing up at family events. No one likes him, no one wants to listen to him, he does not know what the heck he’s talking about, no one knows quite how to get rid of him, but there he is.

  24. This isn’t a great list of quarterbacks coming out in the draft this year. However due to team needs, and a few teams trading up, the perception has been put in place that if you don’t draft one early you won’t get one. The smart thing to do would be to take a contrarian view and step away from overpaying for a quarterback and focus on getting value for linemen, CB’s, and maybe LB’s. GM’s, PM me for the address to send my Consulting checks to. Lolzzz….

  25. When I look at the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” on here, there are WAY too many closet Leaf fans on this site. How does Ryan Leaf have this many supporters on this website???

  26. What he says about mayfield makes sense and success at qb is more than just physical talent, look at manning last few years with that arm or TB12, but you would think that teams would use their combine interview time to have a psychologist ask questions rather trying to find if the player will get upset about being asked questions about mom’s sex life or ones sexual preferences.

  27. I don’t understand why anyone cares or relies on information ryan leaf says. The dude has just been spouting out dumb stuff for the past month. This dude is train wreck.

  28. And always turn your Gps off when in breaking into friends houses for money to go buy crack. always.

  29. Ryan Leaf is a compelling interview. I would agree that suffering doesn’t mean expertise, necessarily, but he’s not just a walking addiction biopic. He actually has football insight. I find his opinions mostly relevant.

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