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Browns take Mayfield at No. 1; OSU's Ward fourth

By MARY KAY CABOT • Apr 26, 2018 at 11:01 PM

BEREA — For the second time in the past five drafts, the Browns called upon a 6-foot-tall Heisman Trophy winner with an edgy past in the first round to save the franchise. The last time around, it was Johnny Manziel at No. 22 in 2014. This time, it's Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft.

Like Manziel, the headband-clad Mayfield comes to town with some baggage and a cocky demeanor, but the Browns don't believe they've drafted Baker Football or Johnny 2.0. They don't believe he'll show anyone the money or be the colossal bust that Manziel was.

In fact, Mayfield's goal since the Senior Bowl in January has been to shed the Manziel comparisons and prove that he's the best quarterback in his class.

"This is a moment I've been dreaming of for so long,'' Mayfield said in the documentary Behind Baker before the draft. "I'm finally here. I want to go No. 1 overall. You've got to have fun with it, but I've got to keep my head on straight at the same time, addressing the people who say I have off-the-field issues."

Mayfield broadcast the call from the Browns on Instagram Live from at home in Texas. He did not attend the Draft at AT&T Stadium. He had dozens of family members cheering, hugging and crying when he was on the phone with Cleveland.

At one point, he said, "yes sir, let's go.''

Mayfield (6-foot-5/8, 215) is the fifth quarterback the Browns have drafted in the first round since 1999, but only the second one above No. 22 since 1999 when they drafted Tim Couch. The others were all taken at No. 22: Brady Quinn in 2007, Brandon Weeden in 2012 and Manziel in 2014.

In the meantime, the Browns — 1-31 over the past two seasons — have traded away from elite quarterbacks such as Carson Wentz in 2016 and Deshaun Watson in 2017, meaning the pressure is on for Mayfield to be successful. The last two quarterbacks the Browns drafted, Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer, went 0-8 and 0-15, respectively. Kizer was traded last month to the Packers.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that new GM John Dorsey has knowns for six weeks that he was going to take Mayfield, and that he told the Haslams a month ago. Mayfield beat out a field that included Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. In the end, it came down to Allen and Mayfield, sources told clevleand.com.

"They'd get a winner,'' Mayfield, 23, said at the NFL Combine last month. "If anybody's going to turn that franchise around, it's going to be me. They're close, they're very close, they've got the right pieces. They just need that one guy and quarterback to make the difference.''

Coach Hue Jackson declared Tyrod Taylor (6-0, 217), signed as a free agent from the Bills, the starter for the 2018 season last month.

"There is no competition,'' said Jackson. "He's going to be the starting quarterback.''

But Mayfield, who went 33-6 as a starter at Oklahoma, has made it clear he's not coming in to hold a clipboard.

"First things first, whatever team I go to, I'm not going to settle for a backup job,'' Mayfield said at the combine. "I've never been like that and I never will, I'm going to push that person in front of me. What it comes down to is the best man's going to win, I know that, but everybody has a role on the team and if you're not pushing those guys around you to be better, you're not doing it right.''

At the NFL meetings last month, Jackson acknowledged that Mayfield won't take riding the bench lightly.

"No doubt, he doesn't (plan to sit),'' said Jackson. "Obviously, I've had these conversations with all these guys. And they know — I mean, we laid it out pretty clearly, what the expectations would be and what we're trying to accomplish here. And they, to a man, they all get it. They understand that this opportunity — as bad as they want it — could be a little overwhelming, and that there's things they need to learn on an every day basis before they're ready to take it on.''

Mayfield is only the second NFL quarterback under 6-1 in the last 15 years to be drafted in the first round. The only other one? Manziel, and we all know how that worked out. The troubled Manziel is out of the NFL and clamoring to get back in.

The Browns are hoping that Mayfield is more like 11-time Pro Bowler Drew Brees or four-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, who are both about the same size.

Browns draft OSU’s Ward at No. 4

Ohio State now has five first-round cornerbacks in the Urban Meyer era.

Denzel Ward became the fifth when the Browns took him with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday in Arlington.

Ward, who played his high school football at Nordonia, was a consensus All-American in his first and only season as the Buckeyes' No. 1 corner.

He had 15 pass breakups, two interceptions and 30 solo tackles last season.

Ward joins Bradley Roby in 2014, Eli Apple in 2016, and Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017 as Ohio State corners who were drafted in the first round since Meyer became the head coach. He is the highest drafted of the five, with Apple previously being the earliest at No. 10 to the Giants.

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