BEREA: New Browns General Manager John Dorsey boldly planted a flag atop the NFL Draft, and the name of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was emblazoned on it.

The Browns selected Mayfield first overall Thursday night, choosing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner as their quarterback of the future over the other top-ranked passers in this year’s class, Southern California’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

It’s a decision almost no one outside of the organization saw coming until the past few days.

Known for a brash personality and competitive fire teammates rally around, Mayfield is the fifth quarterback picked in the first round by the Browns during their expansion era and the first one to be selected earlier than No. 22 overall since Cleveland took Tim Couch at No. 1 as an expansion team in 1999.

This offseason, Browns coach Hue Jackson has repeatedly declared trade-acquisition Tyrod Taylor will be the starting quarterback for the Sept. 9 season opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Mayfield vowed last month at the NFL Scouting Combine not to settle for a backup job anywhere.

Coming off records of 1-15 and 0-16 under Jackson the past two seasons, the Browns have started 28 quarterbacks since their rebirth in the eternal quest for a long-term answer Dorsey is betting Mayfield will provide. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Dorsey has known for six weeks he would choose Mayfield at No. 1.

Mayfield finished his career with a record of 33-6 as the starter at Oklahoma, where he walked-on after doing the same at Texas Tech and later transferring to join the Sooners.

Operating almost exclusively out of shotgun in three seasons at Oklahoma, 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.

“He’s a bright-eyed guy, very passionate about football, can speak the language. He demonstrated the things that we are looking for in a quarterback,” Jackson recently told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, who’s embedded this week at Browns headquarters in Berea.

Despite Mayfield’s remarkable collegiate resume, Dorsey is 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.

As a result, Mayfield has been fighting comparisons to former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel throughout the pre-draft process. Manziel, the 22nd overall pick in 2014, partied his way out of the league in just two seasons.

Mayfield was arrested Feb. 25, 2017, after he ran from police while under the influence of alcohol and got tackled by an officer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He later pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges: public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing.

Mayfield, 23, also raised eyebrows last season 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 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.”

Mayfield joins Manziel, 5-11 3/4, as the seventh quarterback who’s 6-1 or shorter to become a first-round pick since 1970. Michael Vick, listed at 6-foot and 210 pounds during his playing days, was drafted first overall in 2001. Rex Grossman (No. 22, 2003), Cade McNown (No. 12, 1999), Jim McMahon (No. 5, 1982) and Clint Longley (No. 1, 1974) are the others on the list.

Nevertheless, there were some signs Dorsey would make Mayfield his first pick since the Browns hired him as their GM on Dec. 7.

The most glaring one is Browns consultant Scot McCloughan coveting 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.

Mayfield played to the Favre comparison by recreating a classic photograph of strong-armed legend with his family and friends during the draft in 1991, when the Atlanta Falcons picked him in the second round (No. 33 overall). Mayfield posted the picture on social media on Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning, the buzz about him joining the Browns instead of Darnold, the longtime favorite, became deafening.

Mayfield relishes the spotlight. He granted Sports Illustrated writer Robert Klemko access the past three months for an extensive series and has participated in an online documentary series called “Behind Baker.”

Mayfield spent draft night at a party hosted by his parents at their house in Texas, and he used a live video on Instagram to capture his reaction to becoming the top pick.

Last month at the NFL owners meetings, 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 and arrested.

“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.”

Dorsey must be convinced because his era as Browns GM will likely be defined by Mayfield.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.