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Is Baker Mayfield the most underrated Heisman candidate ever?

baker mayfield

When it comes to the 2016 Heisman Trophy race, no one is getting less respect than Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The 2016 Heisman Trophy race hasn’t had any suspense for weeks. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson remains the heavy favorite to win this year’s trophy at 1-50 odds. Yes, 1-50. To explain in laymen’s terms, you need to put down $50 to just win a single dollar. Michigan’s do-it-all star Jabrill Peppers has the second best odds of winning the Heisman at 12-1. He’s followed by Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (16-1), Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (25-1), and Washington quarterback Jake Browning (40-1).

But, where is Baker Mayfield?

The Sooners quarterback has been on some pundits’ lists as a Heisman candidate, but not nearly enough.

When you actually look at the numbers, Mayfield is clearly the best quarterback in America and is the most underrated Heisman candidate of all time this late in the season.

When comparing Mayfield to the other Heisman candidates, he has them beat in a slew of categories.

Completion Percentage
1. Baker Mayfield: 71.4%
2. Deshaun Watson: 66.4%
3. Jake Browning: 64.3%
4. Lamar Jackson : 57.1%

Passing Yards
1. Baker Mayfield: 3,381 yards
2. Deshaun Watson: 3,279 yards
3. Lamar Jackson: 3,109 yards
4. Jake Browning: 2,870 yards

Pass Touchdowns 
1. Jake Browning: 37
2. Baker Mayfield: 35
3. Deshaun Watson: 28
4. Lamar Jackson: 28 

Total Touchdowns
1. Lamar Jackson: 47
2. Baker Mayfield: 41
3. Jake Browning: 41
4. Deshaun Watson: 32

Passing yards/game
1. Baker Mayfield: 307.4
2. Deshaun Watson: 298.1
3. Lamar Jackson: 282.6
4. Jake Browning: 260.9 

Looking at those numbers, Mayfield is the only player who does not rank below second in any of those categories.

Another stat to consider: passer efficiency.

Mayfield ranks first in the country by a wide margin. His 194.7 rating is well ahead of Toledo’s Logan Woodside who ranks 2nd at 185.6. Jake Browning ranks 4th in the country, Lamar Jackson is 16th, and Deshaun Watson comes in at 26th.  In fact, Mayfield’s passer rating is better than the record set by Russell Wilson at Wisconsin five years ago.

So, where is Mayfield and why is he not getting consideration? The answer: laziness.

Lamar Jackson got off to a red hot start and the Cardinals shot up the rankings. Ever since throwing for 6 touchdowns in Week 1 against Charlotte, yes, Charlotte, the 4-7 49ers out of Conference USA, Jackson has been the odds on favorite to win the award. Sure, he continued that with an impressive 4 rushing touchdowns against both Syracuse and Florida State, but why is Jackson such a shoe in?

Louisville has lost two of its three toughest games (Clemson, Houston) and over his past two games against Wake Forest and Houston has completed 54% and 47% of his passes, respectively. He has thrown just 1 touchdown in each game to go along with zero rushing touchdowns.

The Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

First off, throw the integrity part out the window. When guys like Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston win the award, it’s not about integrity. All the award has become is a popularity contest often given to the best player on one of the best teams.

Mayfield has been behind the proverbial 8-ball because the Sooners got off to a slow start with losses to Houston and Ohio State in the opening month of the season. Mayfield and the Sooners became forgetten on the national scene. But since then, Oklahoma is on fire. They’re 8-0 in Big 12 play and with a win in Bedlam will find themselves as Big 12 champions and possibly in the College Football Playoff.

If Mayfield closes the season with an explosive game against the Cowboys, he should be neck and neck with Jackson for the Heisman trophy. All Jackson has left is a game against Kentucky. The Wildcats are a solid team, but far from a powerhouse. With Clemson winning the Atlantic Division in the ACC, Jackson won’t have a championship game to prove his worth on the big stage.

I’ve often wondered who some of the 870 media voters are who vote for the Heisman Trophy. This will be a fascinating year to see if they are independent thinkers who actually follow the sport, or if they are mediocre fans who will google “Heisman Trophy finalists” and just look up the odds written by major media outlets such as Fox, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated.

For the record, I still expect Jackson to win the Heisman Trophy, and I won’t have any qualms if he does end up winning the award. But, it’s time for the rest of the country to start taking a serious look at Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, because when you actually crunch the numbers and factor in the quality of his team (which does play a role, whether voters admit it or not), he’s every bit as worthy as Lamar Jackson.

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