Steelers to get 1st look at Browns’ No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield

November 14, 2018

The average NFL experience level for the starting quarterbacks for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first six opponents this year is nine seasons. Just one played fewer than eight years as a pro.

That will change in a major way Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who will start rookie Baker Mayfield. The No. 1 overall pick in April, Mayfield will be making his fifth NFL start.

“He’s a young guy, but he’s a spirited guy,” Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “He’s peppy and excited about playing. I think he’s a real competitor for them, and he’s going to bring that to the game.”

When the Steelers played the Browns in Cleveland seven weeks ago, eight-year veteran Tyrod Taylor was their starter. Mayfield replaced him during the Week 3 Thursday night game against the New York Jets and promptly led the Browns to their first victory in two years.

He’s 1-3 as a starter since, with two of the defeats (and the win) coming in overtime.

“You see (Mayfield’s competitiveness) when you play their tape,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I think it goes beyond the playmaking that he brings. I think he’s a catalyst for them. I think he inspires others with his spirit and how he approaches it. I think his inclusion and play has been a positive thing for them.”

Mayfield has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions for a 78.5 rating. He also has 82 rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Befitting his image, Mayfield has been one of the most aggressive quarterbacks in the league. Among current starters, he ranks fourth in the league in average intended air yards (9.2 per attempt, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats). Also, 17.6 percent of his passes are thrown into a tight window (defined by when a defender within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the time of completion or incompletion).

“He’s got a good arm. He’s got a REALLY good arm,” Butler said. “He’s got a cannon on him, and I think he’s a smart guy.”

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