CFB Player Bracket: Baker Mayfield vs Mason Rudolph
Today’s bracket contest features two evenly-matched Big 12 quarterbacks. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield overcame Pat Elflein in the first round, while Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph emerged victorious against Maurice Hurst. Neither passer was greatly troubled by the competition in the preliminary round. In contrast, fine margins dictated which quarterback emerged as a quarter-finalist.
To see the entire bracket and every matchup breakdown, click here.
The case for Baker Mayfield
A deserved Heisman finalist, Mayfield ended 2015 with a +40.0 passing grade. His +49.6 overall grade earned him a top three spot in our quarterback rankings. Mayfield’s numbers highlight the quality of his season. He passed for 3,700 yards, completing 67.7 percent of throws including 36 touchdowns and just seven picks. Despite generating 9.3 yards per attempt in 2015 – his offense is not merely dink and dunk – Mayfield recorded an adjusted completion percentage of 77.2 (discounts drops, throw-aways and spikes), good for sixth in the nation. He possesses an impressive combination of arm strength and accuracy, which makes him particularly effective in the intermediate range. Mayfield proved he could penetrate tight windows between linebackers and safeties in zone coverage.
While he wasn’t entirely consistent throwing down the field, Mayfield picked his moments intelligently. The Sooners’ QB was accurate on 51.7 percent of passes, tossing 11 touchdowns without a pick on 20+ yard throws. His impressive decision-making was also evident under pressure. Mayfield generated a QB rating of 117.4 against the rush, in part due to an adjusted completion percentage of 61.4, helping his team to the playoffs in 2015.
In contrast, Rudolph amassed 3,750 yards, completing 61.7 percent of passes with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Despite generating 9.3 yards per attempt in 2015, Mayfield also bettered his division-rival with an adjusted completion percentage of 77.2 (discounts drops, throw-aways and spikes).
Mayfield’s athleticism also stands out, particularly with the ball in hand. He averaged 5.6 yards per rush in 2015 (about 2.5 of which came after contact), scored seven touchdowns and broke a tackle almost once every four rushes. Rush threat comes a distant second when evaluating signal-callers, but it’s a bonus for Mayfield nonetheless. He makes up for his somewhat short stature (6-foot-1) with the danger he poses on the ground. Mayfield’s also particularly effective at buying time in the backfield, enabling the occasional homerun on scramble drills.
After losing a year of eligibility due to a transfer from Texas Tech, Mayfield wasted no time getting to work in 2015. He led the Sooners to victory in all but one game prior to the playoffs. Even in that contest, against Texas, Mayfield played well. Despite being pressured on 43.5 percent of dropbacks, he still completed 21 of 28 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. Mayfield was unable to overcome penalties and poor protection on the final drive as the Sooners fell to the Longhorns. Otherwise, he was excellent in the clutch. Mayfield led Oklahoma to tight wins over both Baylor and Tennessee, beating the Vols in a second overtime period. In fairness, however, Mayfield’s playoff performance against Clemson was not the best. He again suffered poor protection, but did not respond as well, amassing a QB rating of only 53.2 under pressure and 82.0 overall. His -1.5 passing grade was his lowest of the season.
The case for Mason Rudolph
Rudolph essentially resurrected the Oklahoma State football programme a year ago, leading them on a ten game winning streak to open the year. The main reason for their excellent start was Rudolph and his +43.5 season-passing grade. Only four quarterbacks bettered that mark a year ago. Rudolph’s raw numbers aren’t outstanding. He amassed 3,750 yards, completing 61.7 percent of passes with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rudolph’s adjusted completion percentage of 70.9 was only middle of the pack. That said, he did his best work down the field. Although he lacks a canon for an arm, Rudolph throws effectively with touch on deep targets. Of his 21 touchdowns, 13 came on 20+ yard passes. He also recorded an adjust accuracy percentage of 57.3 (second in FBS).
On the other hand, decision-making can be an issue for Rudolph. He managed a QB rating of only 92.9 under pressure, despite showing above average accuracy, lacking the consistent required of a top-level quarterback. A more traditional pocket passer, Rudolph lacks the athleticism to elude pressure in the backfield, compounding the issue. Although he’s far from terrible when disrupted in the pocket, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Despite the pressure of an underperforming program on his shoulders, Rudolph carried Oklahoma State in some games. He drove down the field with time running down to setup a game winning field goal against Kansas State. Rudolph also engineered an excellent fourth quarter touchdown drive against Iowa State in a four-point win. A big-game against Baylor, where he posted a +6.5 passing grade, was dropped due to a struggling defense rather than Rudolph’s performance. Unfortunately, an early injury cost him a chance at the division-title. Rudolph managed only three plays in the Big 12 Championship game.
The Verdict: Baker Mayfield advances
After some debate, Mayfield earns the last spot in Round 3 of our bracket. He has more diversity to his game, was at least equally productive and possesses superior physical characteristics. With an extra year of eligibility, Rudolph has time to surpass his division-rival, but, for now, Mayfield has the slight edge.
Here’s what you had to say on Twitter…