The buzz about the Browns drafting Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall continued to intensify Thursday morning.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday morning there is a mounting belief among head coaches and general managers throughout the NFL that Cleveland will choose Mayfield at No. 1 shortly after the draft begins at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Browns continue to keep the decision on their No. 1 pick a secret, but there is a mounting belief from HCs and GMs around the league that Cleveland will take Baker Mayfield.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2018
Southern California's Sam Darnold and Wyoming's Josh Allen are widely considered the other contenders.
Allen became entangled in controversy on the eve of the draft when his use of offensive language, including racial slurs, was unearthed in tweets he made in 2012 and 2013 as a high school student. He apologized during an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Retired Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said Thursday during a radio interview with 92.3 The Fan he would approve of Mayfield becoming the top pick.
"I think he’s clearly become the guy everybody in that building believes can become the franchise guy," Thomas said.
Everyone I am talking to in the NFL hear the Browns will take Mayfield but all of them cannot believe it's true--same with me
— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) April 26, 2018
Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy last season and finished his career 33-6 as the starter at Oklahoma, where he walked-on after doing the same at Texas Tech and later transferring.
In three seasons with the Sooners, Mayfield completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns with 21 interceptions and rushed for 18 touchdowns. Last season, he completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns with six interceptions and rushed for five touchdowns.
Despite Mayfield's remarkable resume, new Browns General Manager John Dorsey would be going out on a limb by selecting him at No. 1 because the quarterback from Austin, Texas, lacks prototypical height -- he's 6-foot 5/8 and 215 pounds -- and there are questions about his maturity and attitude.
He was arrested Feb. 25, 2017, and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing police. He also raised eyebrows by planting a flag on the field after a victory at Ohio State and grabbing his crotch while directing expletives toward his opponents from the sideline at Kansas.
Yet, Dorsey has repeatedly defended Mayfield's character throughout the pre-draft process.
"You guys [in the media] always try to create the narrative of this guy, that he’s like something he’s not," Dorsey said April 19 during a news conference. "I mean, we said that back at the Senior Bowl. Just meeting with him, he’s a pleasant fella. He’s pretty sharp. He’s fine. I have no problems with him."
It's also no secret that Browns consultant Scot McCloughan covets him. Before the Browns hired McCloughan, a former GM of Washington and San Francisco, he revealed Mayfield is his favorite QB in this class and compared him to Hall of Famer Brett Favre during radio interviews in October and January. Dorsey and McCloughan are close friends who worked together in Green Bay when Favre led the Packers to a Super Bowl win.
And last month at the NFL owners meetings, Browns coach Hue Jackson revealed he gained an appreciation for Mayfield as he got to know him.
"I think he’s outstanding," Jackson said. "I have a different appreciation for Baker. Spending that time with him, what a leader, tremendous person. … He’s important to his teammates. I kind of feel like he’s the Pied Piper of Oklahoma football."
Jackson described a scene he witnessed last month when the Browns held a private workout with Mayfield at Oklahoma.
"When we walked into the building, he made this sound. He just kind of came out of nowhere. He kind of went, 'Hee, hee!'" Jackson said. “And all the players in the building started going, 'Hee, hee!' And here they go. It’s the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen. That shows you something about what he means to young men and how he leads them."
Jackson also alluded to how Mayfield bonded with Mackenzie Asher, who died last year of leukemia at age 11.
"There is a young girl that he spent some time with,” Jackson said. “That was a tragic story, but I truly believe that’s who Baker Mayfield is. He is important in the community."
When he met with the Browns, Mayfield discussed being tackled by a police officer while attempting to feel authorities who were responding to an assault report in Arkansas.
"He told us about it. We kind of laughed about it," Jackson said. "I know he wasn’t fast enough to get away. That’s for sure.
"No, I think he understands that there are some mistakes he’s made as a young man and some things he’d like to do over like we all would. But at the same time, I think he’s moved on from that. We understand. He explained it all to us. We understand it. It was a time in his life, and I think he’s grown from it."