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Vance Joseph raves about Baker Mayfield

Carolina Panthers v Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Baker Mayfield knew before the draft that he wouldn’t go lower than No. 5. Maybe that’s because he sensed that the team that owned the fifth pick would have taken him, if he’d been there.

The Broncos had that pick, and Broncos coach Vance Joseph coached Mayfield in the Senior Bowl, one of the benefits of being a bad team in the prior year. With the Broncos playing the Browns this weekend, Joseph fielded several questions about the rookie who went No. 1 overall on Tuesday.

“He’s got a neat personality,” Joseph said. "[I]t’s loose, but it’s tight. Very, very intelligent, but a very, very confident person. You can feel it when he walks in a room. Even with the guys at the Senior Bowl, other quarterbacks and the players, they gravitated to Baker. He was the guy from Day One. Outside of his talent, he is an exciting person to be around. As far as his football abilities, it’s obvious he’s playing at a high level. He’s pushing the ball down the field and he’s making plays with his legs also. That’s surprising to me that he’s making so many plays off-schedule, down the field. That makes him dangerous.”

Joseph said he wasn’t sure whether Mayfield would be the first overall pick, but Joseph was sure of other things.

“I knew that he had the arm talent to do it and the football IQ,” Joseph said. “After the first install, he could’ve taught the offense. He was that good with the offense. His personality, it’s infectious. His energy and his confidence, you can feel it. I wasn’t sure he was going to be No. 1, but I knew he was going to be a first-round pick for sure.”

Joseph noticed a strong work ethic in Mayfield from the outset of the Senior Bowl practices.

“Our practice was at about 12:30 and he was there for 11:30, and that was his idea,” Joseph said. “He grabbed the quarterbacks and they had an hour before we got there, footwork and taking snaps from center. Those things that he wasn’t very good at, he worked on every single day. You could see it right away that he wants to be a great player.”

He has become truly great since the firing of Hue Jackson, a fact that won’t help Jackson’s quest for a third bite at the coaching apple.

“It’s been about five weeks with the new coordinator and new head coach so that’s what we’re using,” Joseph said regarding whether the Broncos will study film of Mayfield from early in the year. “That’s when he’s played his best ball. It’s been really efficient and they’re making big plays. In the red zone, they had 14 straight trips with 14 touchdowns. That’s amazing. His third downs, he’s about 45 percent.”

The Browns are at 60 percent when it comes to winning post-Hue, notching as many victories in five games as Hue finagled in 40. And Mayfield is the biggest reason for it. He’s also the biggest reason why there’s cause in Cleveland for real, honest-to-goodness hope for 2019 and beyond.