Q: How many TDs (plus overall smart play) in each preseason game does Baker Mayfield need to move up past Drew Stanton on the depth chart, presuming Stanton does what he is supposed to do (run the offense smoothly and get 1-2 TDs during his series)?
A: I’m not sure I can put a precise number on it. I am certain Mayfield’s position on the depth chart will be a story from now until he takes over as the permanent starter.
Much of the focus has been on if/when Mayfield will replace Tyrod Taylor as the starter. I still believe it’s a 50-50 proposition by Week 1 and closer to 75 percent by midseason. An “NFL-ready” No. 1 pick simply isn’t destined to spend much time on the sideline.
But the question of Mayfield overtaking Stanton is an interesting one. Stanton, an eight-year veteran, was acquired to teach the whatever rookie was drafted how to prepare in the NFL while serving as insurance if Taylor got hurt and the rookie wasn’t ready. I think the insurance policy is less applicable after the selection of Mayfield. While the organization may deem Mayfield not ready to start Week 1 under any circumstances, there’s no way he sits behind Stanton for more than a week or two in the event of an injury to Taylor.
To actually attempt to answer your question, I would say six touchdowns for the preseason — in what should be ample playing time — should be enough for Mayfield to climb a spot on the depth chart. But the numbers aren’t as important as how comfortable he looks.
Q: How many games would Baker Mayfield need to play to be considered for offensive rookie of the year?
A: I don’t believe there’s a hard-and-fast rule, but 10 seems like the logical number. If Mayfield plays more than half the season and somehow manages to have the Browns on the cusp of playoff contention – let’s say seven wins for the year – he should receive serious consideration for the award.
Q: The trade of CB Jason McCourty to New England netted a sixth-round pick (205), which was sent to the Redskins in the trade of QB Kevin Hogan. The sixth-round pick received back from the Redskins (188) resulted in the Browns drafting Simeon Thomas. He’s a CB, pretty tall, 6-foot-3, but had a ton of problems in school. Is he any good or was this just a throwaway pick?
— G. Papcun
A: The sixth round is the time to take a gamble, and that’s what general manager John Dorsey did with Thomas. He wasn’t on the team’s radar until the Louisiana Lafayette pro day, when he ran a 4.46-second 40.
The Browns love his size and speed and think he fits with coordinator Gregg Williams’ press-man system. The question will be whether the skinny Thomas is strong enough to survive in the NFL. He says he’s a physical player but he must prove he can successfully disrupt receivers with a jam at the line … and stay healthy.
His upside is worth the pick that late in the draft.
Q: How long is defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun under contract with the Browns? Do you expect he will be in the long-term plans of the team? Seems like slot corner has become more valuable in recent years.
A: According to spotrac.com, Boddy-Calhoun has a year left on his rookie contract and can become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season.
This is a pivotal year for his future with the Browns. GM John Dorsey overhauled the secondary in the offseason, leaving Boddy-Calhoun’s role and future uncertain. His versatility helps – he can play corner, nickelback and safety – but he needs to play well this season to earn a contract.
With the additions of cornerbacks Denzel Ward, TJ Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell, Boddy-Calhoun’s best shot for playing time could come as a third safety behind Damarious Randall and Jabrill Peppers. You’re absolutely correct about the value of slot corner, but the Browns have other options ahead of Boddy-Calhoun.
Q: When are the Browns going to sign the rest of the draft picks?
A: What’s the rush?
I’m just giving you a hard time, but in the age of the rookie wage scale, the draft pick contracts are a formality 99 percent of the time. The Browns have signed four of the nine picks – Austin Corbett, Genard Avery, Damion Ratley and Simeon Thomas – and more deals will likely happen with the rookies back in town for the offseason program.
I know Joey Bosa held out a couple of years ago with the Chargers, but I don’t expect that kind of tense situation with the Browns, Baker Mayfield and his agents.
Q: What is Paul DePodesta’s current role? After taking Baker Mayfield, the analytics’ choice, how much influence do you think he has in personnel decisions?
A: An interesting question. I was surprised by the Mayfield selection, in part because it felt like a pick influenced by analytics. Then GM John Dorsey cited a variety of statistics to support the decision, including red zone efficiency and the lack of batted balls.
I don’t think that means DePodesta has enormous say – Dorsey and his top personnel men are loyal to their scouting backgrounds – but it means Dorsey isn’t ignoring the analytics department he inherited. I’m sure DePodesta and his department have less say than when Sashi Brown was in charge, but they have more than I expected.
Q: So tell me, when the hell is Hue Jackson jumping into the lake? It’s not even winter anymore and it’s warming up.
A: You got your answer Monday. But in case you didn’t see the headlines, it’s June 1.
The event will be private, for team employees only, and Jackson hopes to raise money for his foundation to stop human trafficking. I know a lot of people disagree with me, but I don’t blame Jackson for not wanting to take the polar plunge when the weather was awful.