CFB Player Bracket: Baker Mayfield vs. Pat Elflein
The next matchup in our bracket sees a top-level quarterback up against a guy whose job it is to protect the quarterback. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield had himself a fantastic year, culminating in a fourth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting. He’ll square off against Ohio State guard Pat Elflein, who’s had two very productive seasons and looks to continue that trend with a third leading up to the 2017 NFL draft. Here’s the case for both players to advance:
The case for Baker Mayfield
Mayfield was the third-highest graded quarterback in the nation last season at +49.6, and the two ahead of him have since moved on to the NFL (Jared Goff and Matt Johnson). He completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 3699 yards, 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His 9.34 yards per attempt was the highest in the nation. He’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football, as his accuracy percentage of 77.2 percent is the third-best among returning QBs. Last season he threw 12 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions when under pressure, which was the best ratio in all of college football.
Mayfield really excels when he pushes the ball downfield. On passes greater than 10 yards downfield, he completed 87-of-153 passes for 2042 yards, 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions. What’s even more amazing is that he attempted 60 throws greater than 20 yards downfield, and not one of them was intercepted. Mayfield was the only QB last season to have a deep throw accuracy percentage above 50 and not throw a single interception. This was one of his best throws of the year, but he had a many throws that looked just like it.
The case for Pat Elflein
The biggest case for Elflein to advance in this round is his consistency. He graded at +23.8 this past season and 20.3 in 2014. That +44.1 cumulative grade over those two seasons is the tenth-best mark among all guards in the same span. Elflein’s biggest strength is his run blocking, as he has helped anchor a strong Ohio State rushing game the past two seasons. In 28 games, he’s only graded negatively in the run game six times, and only once did his run grade dip below -1.0 for a game (-1.2).
What bodes even better for Elflein this coming season is his continued improvement in the pass-blocking department. In 2014 he allowed four sacks, one hit and 10 QB hurries which led to a 97.4 pass blocking efficiency. In 2015, those pressure numbers dropped to just one sack, two hits, and seven hurries, and a 97.9 pass blocking efficiency. For an Ohio State team that has lost a lot of players for the upcoming year, Elflein will be their offensive line rock and has a chance to be one of the best guards in the country this season.
The Verdict: Baker Mayfield advances
Elflein is a great guard who may end up as a first round pick in the NFL draft after this season. However, his pass blocking does need some work to get there. He struggled against some higher level competition and although he’s improving, it’s just not at that top level yet.
It certainly doesn’t help that he drew Mayfield in this first round. Mayfield is arguably the best returning quarterback this year and is poised to improve upon his fantastic 2015 season. His deep ball is a thing of beauty and he knows how to read the field and make the right throw. But most importantly, he pushes the ball downfield and rarely turns the ball over. It’s for those reasons that Baker Mayfield advances to the next round of our bracket.
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