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Andy Hodges

Mayfield first; Cowboys LB; Jackson may affect Mallett

Don’t dismiss quarterbacks based on height, Cowboys still need a playmaking wide receiver and the Ravens drafting Lamar Jackson may affect Ryan Mallett.

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Listening to the NFL experts Thursday before the annual cattle auction of college talent, not very many were talking about Cleveland taking Baker Mayfield first.

Which, of course, is the exact thing they did.

Mayfield, who was caught from behind and dragged down by a Fayetteville police officer last year, was taken at the No. 1 spot … and immediately many of the Great Unwashed said the Browns wasted yet another No. 1 pick.

Of course, the biggest knock on him is his height (he’s 6-foot and a couple of fractions) and the fact he’s been rather brash and done some things folks consider improper.

All of that is balderdash.

While it’s true today’s NFL does consider inappropriate sexual behavior, beating people up and racial insensitivity as big-time problems. Being a college student and getting drunk isn’t necessarily a big deal unless it’s a documented pattern of behavior.

After all, the NFL has a fine tradition of alcoholic quarterbacks who played pretty well when admittedly they were hung over and had left the party to come play the game. Bobby Layne, Don Meredith and Joe Namath pop immediately to mind.

What Cleveland saw in Mayfield is a guy that makes plays. When things fall apart, he’s shown an ability at a high level to still make lemonade without lemons.

Besides, height isn’t an automatic negative … if the guy can still make plays. Check out Drew Brees. Granted, guys over 6-foot-5 and under 6-foot-2 haven’t exactly dominated the game, there have been some pretty good ones.

Which is why Arkansas fans shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss John Stephen Jones coming in at quarterback this year.

At Highland Park, he showed an uncanny ability to make big plays and the comeback he led the Scots to in the state championship game last season will be a YouTube classic for years.

Now, whether that translates to success at the SEC levels is yet to be determined. Plus he’s going to have some stiff competition from Connor Noland.

But don’t dismiss him based on height.

Cowboys draft linebacker

When Dallas cut Dez Bryant a couple of weeks ago, everyone figured getting a receiver in the draft would be a priority.

Instead, the Cowboys took linebacker Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State at No. 19 to fill a need there. If you paid attention at all the Cowboys had more needs than wide receiver, but you still figured they would address that.

Of course, Jerry Jones may have followed the Gil Brandt theory.

Brandt, the longtime personnel guy for the Tex Schramm-Tom Landry regime, told a group of us in 1986 that the Cowboys weren’t going to take a little-known receiver from Mississippi Valley State named Jerry Rice because, “I can go find a receiver on any street corner in Dallas any day of the week.”

In the NFL, what folks say and what they do is usually in direct proportion to what they CAN do at any particular time.

But there’s not a big time playmaker at wide receiver now in Dallas. They were obviously ready to part ways with Bryant, but didn’t take the chance to get one in the first round of the draft when a couple were available (D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley were still available).

As it always is with the NFL Draft, we’ll see how it plays out.

Jackson nearly falls out of first round

Every draft has one player in the staging area that sits around like the last kid to be picked at a school dance.

That fell to Louisville’s Lamar Jackson on Thursday night.

He becomes Bobby Petrino’s highest-drafted quarterback. Yes, the Great Playcaller has never really been able to develop quarterbacks that have much success in the NFL.

Ryan Mallett’s been the best, which is sort of a backhanded compliment. Mallett has thrown a total of 345 passes over seven seasons for a career rating of 66.8 with 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

He’s like a lefthanded baseball pitcher with a 100 miles per hour fastball that finds the plate occasionall because somebody will always have a roster spot for him.

While the talking heads like to rave about Petrino’s NFL-style offense and how quarterbacks in his system have all this great experience, the fact is they really don’t.

Jackson has a lot of flaws in terms of playing quarterback in the NFL, although Michael Vick made it work for a few years and maybe Baltimore is willing to change it’s offense to fit him.

With Joe Flacco still under center for the Ravens, he doesn’t have a tenth of the athleticism Jackson has.

Oh, by the way, Mallett has been Flacco’s backup in Baltimore the last couple of years. Razorback fans know how athletic he is … he’s slower than a cow with arthritis.

The guess here is Mallett will be looking for a new team within the next two years.

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