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So Now Baker Mayfield Gets to Work With Ben McAdoo, Who Thought He Was a Lousy Draft Prospect

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If you have even the smallest drop of human empathy in your system, you can understand why Baker Mayfield was, to put it mildly, perturbed at the Browns organization. They took him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. Right or wrong, he no doubt felt like he was developing to the point he was rewarding their faith in him. In 2020, he led them to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win (over arch nemesis Pittsburgh, no less) since Bill Belichick was the coach in 1994. But after a step back season of 8-9 last year, they pushed him aside like he was that creep who plays The Flash in the DCU movies. 

So you can see why he'd be feeling stepped over. Especially when his replacement cost the Browns a mountain of draft capital and $230 million guaranteed. There's being unwanted, and then there's being really, REALLY, super unwanted, to the 10th power.

But if Mayfield thought that being traded was going to be less awkward than reporting to Browns camp only to watch Deshaun Watson take all the first team reps from him, he may be right. But only by degrees. Splitting hairs, really. Because his new offensive coordinator in Carolina is this guy:

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And Ben McAdoo is not a Baker Mayfield fan. At least he wasn't when he was no longer on an NFL payroll. 

When Mayfield was coming into the league, McAdoo had just been fired by the Giants. And, as the guys in my neighborhood used to say when they were collecting unemployment, he was "between jobs." (Those of us who were going to work or school every day while they hung around getting high called them The Out-of-Work Jerks. That doesn't apply here, but it was a good description.) So with no company line to toe, McAdoo was free to let his opinions fly. Hold nothing back. Call 'em as he saw 'em. Which he did. And it should make for a lot of full-body cringing in that first position meeting. Because the Panthers have just used a lot of draft picks to assemble a quarterbacks room:

… that McAdoo once wanted no part of:

NY Post, July 2018 - McAdoo took it upon himself to scout the top quarterbacks entering the 2018 draft. He rated Josh Allen of Wyoming as the best of the bunch … but, overall, McAdoo was not enamored of this class of quarterbacks. …

McAdoo wonders if Sam Darnold, taken No. 3, will ever be the franchise-saver the Jets need him to be. McAdoo could not get past flaws in Darnold’s throwing mechanics and his ball security.

“I think the kid the Jets drafted has a lot of magic in his game,’’ McAdoo said. “I think he’s special. He’s obviously a talented guy, he can make plays with his feet. I’d just have a hard time drafting a guy in the first round where you don’t necessarily like the way he throws. … [I]t’s a fundamental flaw, and I believe in the fundamentals." …

McAdoo sounded a bit mystified [John] Dorsey made Baker Mayfield the No. 1 pick in the entire draft. McAdoo had Mayfield as his sixth-rated quarterback (Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State was his No. 5). 

He’s got an edge to him, I like that. He’s gonna lead, they’re gonna follow him,’’ McAdoo said of Mayfield. “I didn’t see a lot of pro-style football in his college tape. And if you’re short you have to be able to make up for it some way, somehow, and personality doesn’t do that.” I didn’t think he was a great athlete. This guy is kinda like a pocket quarterback that is short and with small hands, that’s what I worry about.’’

Ouch.

Giphy Images.

I mean even couched in all those qualifiers - intangible, unproveable qualities like magic, edge and leaderishness - those are damning indictments of the top two players on the Panthers quarterback depth chart. Especially when the OC has said he values traits Mayfield and Darnold don't have. This is like your buddy dumping all over a girl to you because he finds everything about her to be gross and disgusting, but they end up getting serious. You don't want to remind him of what he said, but you definitely do not forget with incredibly accurate, didactic memory every word of it. 

I'd give anything to be in that first meeting between the three, just to see how uncomfortable it gets. Does McAdoo address it? Do Mayfield or Darnold bring it up? "Quick question, coach. Um, aside from his mechanics, ball security, the way he throws, his terrible fundamental flaws, and my lack of athleticism, shortness and tiny hands, how excited are you to work with us?" 

I guess the takeaway here is that, when a former coach decides to keep his mouth shut when he's asked about current players or just talks in platitudes on every football-related subject, there's a good reason for it. Words will come back to haunt you every, single time. At least the honest ones will.