BEREA: Browns vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith possesses an unusual perspective when it come to quarterbacks. He’s played with some pretty good ones including hall of famers Warren Moon and Troy Aikman.

The former running back knows quarterbacks.

The tepid response to the Browns’ selection of Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft doesn’t seem to faze him or assistant general manager Eliot Wolf in the least.

“I had an opportunity to scout him at school [while with the Green Bay Packers] as well and I was joking with him,” Highsmith said of Mayfield. “I said, ‘You know what? You could have played with me back in Miami. You’re my type of guy.’ I’ve been around great quarterbacks my whole life.”

That’s the highest compliment that anyone such as Highsmith, likely now considered old school, can pay to a rookie in the 21st century. Despite praise from football elder statesmen, Mayfield’s drafting has been met with a lukewarm reception from fans in the social media realm to football pundits across the league.

The primary reason given: his height and perceived potential attitude problems. Highsmith said there’s more to the position than physical attributes.

“If it was just about a big arm, then everybody would be successful at the quarterback position,” he said. “We throw out all the traits what it takes to be a quarterback when someone doesn’t measure up to somebody’s standards.”

Wolf, who scouted Mayfield when he was with the Packers, agreed that it’s about more than physical assets when it comes to playing football’s most important position.

“Baker was a guy I had an opportunity to watch play live last year against Texas and the thing you can really see with him was his presence on the field,” Wolf said. “Pre-game, he would walk by a group of Oklahoma players and there was just that instant energy that everyone had.”

And what of those alleged drawbacks? Wolf looked past them to what happened on the field.

“Then once the game starts, obviously he’s got all the tools you look for,” he said, “a little bit shorter than everyone’s perfect idea of a quarterback, but we didn’t feel like that necessarily contributed to any negative play.”

For Highsmith, it comes down to that one factor: “It’s about playing the game. It’s about being a good football player.”

Leadership style

Mayfield explained the key to getting his teammates to follow his lead, something he became known for at Oklahoma.

“It starts with actions,” Mayfield said. “Actions always speak louder than words. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. It starts with work ethic. It starts with what you show them during the offseason, how you develop, how you’re mentally tough. You show them how passionate you are about the game, how badly you want to win, and then from there you can put yourself in a position that you’re respected and well liked and you can speak your mind. You’re able to influence people with words on top of that.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson called Mayfield the “Pied Piper of Oklahoma football” last month after he saw how the quarterback interacted with his teammates when the Browns conducted a private workout with him at the school.

“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 in March at the NFL owners meetings. “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.”

Mayfield, who chose to wear jersey No. 6 in a video posted by the Browns, expounded on the story Friday.

“It wasn’t an actual [Hee, hee] call,” Mayfield said. “When you get around your guys in the locker room, it’s like a sense, like that’s your family, so it being one of the last times I got to throw to them in Norman, competitively, however you want to describe it, describe it, it was just like, ‘OK, the show’s on right now. Let’s go get it. Let’s go work for it. Let’s go earn it.’ And so we had our guys and that was just, I said hi to them on the way in, yelled at them a little bit, not yelling at them, but just getting them going.”

Their guy

Many draft experts were sure that with their No. 4 overall pick, their second in the first round, the Browns would take North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb. Instead they took Ohio State cornerback and former Nordonia player Denzel Ward. For them, it came down to wants.

“In the draft every year, there’s decisions you have to make and you can’t pick them all,” Wolf said. “We admired both those players and in the end, we picked the guy that we really wanted.”

No equivocation

Ward played offense and defense at Nordonia, but he’s learned his place in the competitive world of football.

“I am a cornerback,” Ward said. “As you said, I played offense at Nordonia, as well, but I always played corner at Nordonia. When I went to Ohio State, coach [Kerry] Coombs molded me into the corner that I am today and helped me with my technique, footwork and everything. I think I will be well prepared coming into the NFL.”

Deal making

The Browns traded the last pick of the second round (No. 64) to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round selection (No. 67) and a sixth-round choice (No. 178). The Colts then drafted Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis at No. 64. With the Buckeyes, Lewis produced 112 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss and 23.5 sacks.

Short take

Ward was the first Buckeyes player drafted by the Browns since wide receiver Brian Robiskie in 2009.

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com.