Baker Mayfield wasn’t surprised by the number of snaps he took under center at Friday’s minicamp practice.
The Browns’ No. 1 pick embraced it, working on it before, during and after the first two practices of his Cleveland career. Why spend practice time in his comfort zone (shotgun) when he could drill away at an area in which he simply doesn’t have much experience?
“We are going to hammer that until I am good and it feels natural,” Mayfield said after Saturday’s walk-through. “That is the way it should be. I can play out of the shotgun, everybody here knows that. Se we are going to hammer that and we are going to work on what I need to work on so that we can go from there.”
With the proliferation of fast-paced, spread attacks throughout college football, this kind of transition is something more and more quarterbacks are forced to undertake when they arrive in the NFL. Mayfield doesn’t hide from it, saying Saturday he simply doesn’t have much experience with working from under center at all, as he was never called to do it in high school and only did so when his teams lined up in jumbo packages on the goal line during his college career.
Mayfield knew it was coming Friday, and he knew there’d be some hiccups along the way, too.
“Once you get used to a center, you are good,” Mayfield said. “It’s just footwork. Just getting used to getting depth from the line of scrimmage. You see guys, you have to get separation. In shotgun, you already have it, so with the drop, you do not have to get the depth. Now the emphasis is on getting back and being comfortable and under control, to where if you do have to step up, you can do that. It is just the footwork and getting comfortable.”
Fifty-seven players will be on the practice field for rookie minicamp.
How much Mayfield will have to even line up under center in the NFL remains to be seen.
Last year, Ben Roethlisberger threw the vast majority of his passes from the shotgun while operating from the offense coordinated by Todd Haley, who is now in the same position with the Browns. Former Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer ranked 10th in the NFL in most pass attempts out of the shotgun last year.
“I know that he is a guy that adapts to his players,” Mayfield said. “We will see when we put all of the pieces together what time of team we will be.”
Still, it’s an area of game Mayfield and the Browns would love for the rookie to master, especially now when it’s early in the offseason and he’s third on the depth chart behind veterans Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton.
“We will work at this,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think it is going to be a quick fix because he is athletic enough and he is disciplined enough to do it. I do not think it is going to be something that is going to be a problem. We can’t keep having it in his head. He will keep working through it, and we will keep getting better at it.”