Baker Mayfield impressing Carolina Panthers OC Ben McAdoo, once one of QB's biggest critics

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo wasn't as critical of quarterback Baker Mayfield on Tuesday as he was in 2018, when he expressed concerns over the Heisman Trophy winner's height, hand size and style of play heading into the NFL draft.

Mayfield seems to have won over one of his most well-known critics.

"Baker since he's been here in the last two weeks, it's been pretty impressive," said McAdoo, speaking for the first time on the former Cleveland Browns starter since the Panthers acquired him in a trade last month.

McAdoo didn't show his hand on who will win the "open" competition between Mayfield and Sam Darnold, but for the second time in two days, a Panthers official used the word "impressive" to describe Mayfield.

"What he's done in 10 days [of camp] is pretty impressive," coach Matt Rhule said on Monday. "He's making real big jumps."

In a 2018 article in The New York Times, McAdoo rated Josh Allen the top quarterback before the draft, followed by Lamar Jackson, Darnold, Josh Rosen, Mason Rudolph and Mayfield.

Mayfield went No. 1 to the Browns and Darnold No. 3 to the New York Jets.

McAdoo's assessment of Mayfield coming out of Oklahoma was mixed. He was worried in particular about Mayfield's height (6-foot-1) and small hands -- 8.5 inches, the same initially as 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett, whose hand size was scrutinized heavily heading into the draft.

"He's got an edge to him; I like that," McAdoo said of Mayfield in 2018. "He's gonna lead, they're gonna follow him. 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."

McAdoo expressed none of those concerns on Tuesday. That Mayfield had three passes knocked down at the line in Monday's practice, he said, had nothing to do with height.

He couldn't say enough about Mayfield's leadership.

"One of his strengths is command," McAdoo said. "He can lead a room, he can command a room, he can command an offense. He has a good presence about him. And, you know, he's got a fire in his guts."

McAdoo also likes that Mayfield has adjusted to his system with little difficulty.

"The thing for Baker, he's been in a lot of offensive systems going back to college and then coming through the pros," McAdoo said. "He's bright and he really works at it. That helps him. He's here very early in the morning, and I'm sure he's burning the midnight oil to get caught up."

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