Cleveland Browns executive Alonzo Highsmith, who is considered to be the right-hand man of general manager John Dorsey, had some very interesting things to say about Josh Rosen and Josh Allen, who were considered by the Browns at the top of the draft.
Highsmith, speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame luncheon on Monday, revealed he actually had Darnold at the top of his board for most of the pre-draft process. But after meeting with Baker Mayfield, whom the Browns ended up selecting No. 1 overall, he changed his mind.
“Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything,” Highsmith said, per Steve Doerschuck of CantonRep.com. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive.
“And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”
So that’s why Mayfield ended up being drafted, among other things. But here’s where it gets very interesting. Highsmith opened up about what turned him off about Rosen and Allen.
For Rosen, it was just something under the surface he says he cannot quite define.
“I was at an airport,” he said. “UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that. We all know how people talk. So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there.’
“I’m like, ‘All right coach. That’s good enough.’ I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”
When it came to Allen, Highsmith said it really boiled down to the young man out of Wyoming making “excuses” for his completion rate, which was extremely low during college.
“Baker Mayfield lost two receivers and he was the same quarterback,” Highsmith said. “Josh Allen … big arm … he could throw the ball from here to the moon. When they have to make excuses … why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem.”
So clearly, in addition to Mayfield’s prowess on the field, it was the way he dealt with people and the way he carries himself that drew the Browns to him. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills will get to see if Highsmith’s feelings about the other two guys was something or nothing in due course.
Ultimately, it’s going to take a few years minimum for us to make judgements about the quarterbacks selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. But the Browns were absolutely sold on Mayfield, and now we know a bit more why that was the case.