Baker Mayfield might perhaps be one of the more polarizing QB prospects for evaluators this Draft season. His comfortability to play off structure amongst chaos is phenomenal. While his improvisational skills are off the charts by creating angles and passing lanes to throw to his receivers, I wanted to outline aspects of Mayfield’s arm talent and ball placement ability in regards to his torque and touch. Mayfield possesses high level velocity on his throws as well as having the ability to change speeds and have touch on his throws when needed. Mayfield has the ability to make plays with his arm that high tier quarterbacks in the NFL make.
Below are two play examples against TCU during Week 11 where Mayfield has great ball placement using torque and touch.
Torque is created by the lead shoulder and chest to get more velocity on passes, as the lead shoulder and chest pull the throwing arm through the motion of the pass. According to “Coaching Quarterback Passing Mechanics”, by Steve Axman,
“Using the chest to direct a passed football helps to properly focus every party of the trunk-the hips, stomach, and chest-in a straight line to the target spot. In addition, by driving the passed football with the chest, the quarterback can achieve maximum body torque and power in the delivery of the pass.”
You can read the rest of Axman’s explanation in Mark’s torque piece in the paragraph below.
Mark Schofield has been talking about torque for a while now, especially when it comes to the throwing style of Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton. Newton possesses a rare level of velocity due to how he’s able to use his upper body and chest to drive the ball on his passes downfield and on tight window passes.
On this 2nd and 10 play from the TCU 26 yard line, Mayfield displays torque on a high velocity pass to his tight end, Mark Andrews (#81). From the end zone view on the replay you can see that Mayfield recognizes the linebacker positioning himself to play the slot receiver, who slips up on the play. Once the linebacker begins to break, Mayfield steps up in the pocket with a slight bounce step and delivers a strike into a wide open throwing window between the two safeties for a first down completion.
In case it’s difficult to notice the torque at first glance, I slowed the throwing motion down a bit. Here you’ll recognize that Mayfield is pulling that lead shoulder and chest to create more trunk rotation resulting in added power to his throw than if the throw was only all arm.
Quarterbacks need a certain level of velocity on their passes to fit throws into tight windows at the NFL level. Some can compensate for a lack of velocity by quickly processing coverages post snap to speed up the process. Mayfield seems to have both abilities which bodes well for his NFL prospects. While the window on this play wasn’t tight, Mayfield displays more than enough velocity on his throws to fit passes into tight windows at the next level.
Touch and Ball Placement
It’s one thing to have a great fastball, but quarterbacks must also be able to take some off their “pitches” and throw the changeup as well, meaning they must be able to adjust their velocity based on the throw that needs to be made in a given situation. These passes are mainly attempted when the defender has his back to the quarterback which gives the quarterback and receiver the advantage, as he can make a throw where only his receiver can adjust to make the catch.
Last week during the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, Drew Brees made a perfect throw to his WR Michael Thomas on 3rd and 6 to move the chains. During the broadcast Troy Aikman clamored about Brees’ ability to allow his receivers to adjust to the pass where only they can make the catch. He then revealed that Brees and his receivers practice adjusting to “errant throws” in practice to ready themselves for in game situations. “Errant” because Brees is purposely placing the pass in that spot.
Mayfield can do this as well. The Sooners’ QB is sometimes compared to Brees, mainly due to his height, but here is an example of Mayfield displaying some high level quarterback traits with intelligence and ball placement.
On 2nd and 4, midway through the second quarter in an empty set, Mayfield attempts and completes a very nice pass to his running back, Rodney Anderson (#24). Anderson runs a fade route up the seam and drifts towards the boundary side of the field. As Anderson begins to drift, Mayfield releases the ball with very good trajectory. The slot defender has his back turned to the QB making it nearly impossible for him to pick up the location of the ball – especially with the timing of Mayfield’s release. When the pass arrives the slot defender looks up, but the ball is already on it’s way down into Anderson’s hands.
The most important aspect of this pass, however, is the ball placement. The defender has no opportunity to make a play on this ball without interfering. The ball is placed to the outside shoulder of the receiver, making it difficult for the defender to leap and reach his arm in and break up the pass. This type of play requires intelligence to know where to attack the defender with his placement and then the touch to execute the pass.
Mayfield could be the center of many important front office debates in the up and coming months prior to the Draft, but on film he has flashed NFL quality traits that have me excited for his NFL future.