Before the draft, the Browns weren’t saying anything about their plans for the first overall pick. They’re talking a blue streak now, Jack. (I know I’ve said that before. More than once)
On Monday, Browns V.P. of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith spoke at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club on Monday, offering a candid assessment of why his opinion flipped from Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield.
“Here’s the honest to God’s truth,” Highsmith said, via the Canton Repository. “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. On our way through everything, you couldn’t tell me Darnold wasn’t the best. I did all my evaluations of the season.”
So what changed?
“[T]he 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 effect 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.”
This meshes with a story that has been mentioned a time or two over the past few weeks, most recently by Peter King of SI.com. When Mayfield had his private workout for the Browns, seven teammates were there to catch passes. When he arrived, Mayfield called out, “Hee hee!” They responded with the same sound, and then came jogging over to him.
That’s the quality, the “it” factor, the magic that allows a quarterback to naturally lead others. It’s what, as one league source recently explained to PFT, set John Elway apart. Per the source, a former Elway teammate said that, when Elway was in the huddle, he simply had a way of convincing his teammates that they were destined to win the game.
And here’s where stats and analytics take a backseat to intangibles. If a quarterback can exert effortless, organic leadership, the quarterback possesses a quality that plenty of his peers may not possess.