Draft Myles Garrett or Patrick Mahomes? Baker Mayfield has an opinion

The Browns took Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. The Chiefs took Patrick Mahomes at No. 10. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

BEREA, Ohio -- It should be stated that Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was smiling as he spoke.

"I love Myles Garrett, but ..." Mayfield said Wednesday of the top pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

Mayfield then said another player warranted the first overall pick: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

"Talentwise, I thought he should have been," Mayfield said.

From one quarterback admiration group to another. Mayfield and Mahomes were college friends and eventual rivals. Mayfield hosted Mahomes on his visit to Texas Tech before Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma. And the two took part in a historic track meet of a game in 2016 in which Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined for 125 points. Mahomes threw for 734 yards and five touchdowns, Mayfield for 545 yards and seven touchdowns in a 66-59 Sooners win.

"That was my welcome back to Lubbock moment," Mayfield said. "Weird things happen in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday nights."

The paths the two young quarterbacks have followed in the NFL have been short but different.

Mahomes sat as a rookie in Kansas City until the season finale. He was given the job this season when the Chiefs traded Alex Smith. Mahomes now is one of the main stories in the NFL. He has had three consecutive games with four touchdown passes, and he leads the NFL in passing yards (2,526) and touchdowns (26).

"He does stuff that you can't even think of it actually being possible," Mayfield said.

Mayfield admits to a tinge of jealousy when talking about Mahomes' arm strength.

"There was a play in that college game, he was rolling to his left, flicked it and it went about 65 in the air for a touchdown," Mayfield said.

The two became friends during Mahomes' college visit.

"Patrick's always been an easygoing guy," Mayfield said. "That's why those teammates that he's always had played for him so hard. He gets their respect not just on talent -- that's the easy way to earn respect -- but based on who he is as a person. He just has the presence about him that you want to be around. You gravitate toward that. It's fun to see him grow."

Similar things are said about Mayfield -- the most common statement is that he has the "it" factor that will make him successful.

"I think the it factor that people search for and want is does he make the 10 other people in the huddle with him better," Browns veteran backup Drew Stanton said. "That's the true test of a quarterback."

Mayfield was supposed to follow the same wait-and-learn path as Mahomes, but he took over in the third game when Tyrod Taylor was injured and has started five games since. He did not get the time to watch and learn the way Mahomes did.

"I have never been one to want to sit out," Mayfield said. "I have always wanted to play. It is what it is. I think I can learn from experience. I think he learned from both. He started the last game in 2017. Everybody is different. He benefited from that and I think I can learn quickly, as well."

"Baker is an awesome dude," Mahomes said. "He is a great leader, and he has a ton of passion. His talent is through the roof. He is going to keep getting better every single week. He has already had a lot of success. The sky is the limit for him."

In the 2017 draft, Mahomes was not really under consideration for the first overall pick. Though Mayfield thinks Mahomes' talent was deserving, he understands some of the thinking. Emphasis on some of it.

"Coming from the Texas Tech system there are always skeptics doubting that all he did was sit back there and throw the ball," Mayfield said. "He did it 88 times in our game. When it comes down to it, throwing the ball is throwing the ball, and he's really good at it."

The Browns narrowed their decision to Garrett or quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Had they known what Mahomes would become, they may well have taken him. But Mahomes has had the benefit of one year of learning and teammates like running back Kareem Hunt, receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Mayfield has one experienced receiver and now is going through a midseason head coach and coordinator change.

Garrett has not disappointed in any way, either. His eight sacks in eight games are the most by a Browns player through the first half of the season. In the 19 games he has played, he has 15 sacks, 3.5 fewer than Reggie Camp's team record of 18.5 by a player in his first two seasons.

The Browns also had the 12th pick via trade in 2017, and that may well have been where they would have taken Mahomes, whom former coach Hue Jackson liked a great deal.

"I knew that the Browns liked me," Mahomes said. "You never know in the draft process what is real and what is not. I knew from my feel that the Browns liked me a lot."

The Chiefs knew that New Orleans (picking 11th) and the Browns were both interested in Mahomes, so they traded up from the 27th spot to No. 10, giving Buffalo a first- and third-round pick in 2017 and a first-round pick in 2018.

John Dorsey was the Chiefs general manager who engineered the trade. A year later, Dorsey was the general manager who stayed with the first overall pick to take Mayfield.

"I have said this before, [then co-director of player personnel] Brett Veach wore Dorsey and I out about this guy," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Every five minutes, he was talking about this guy. We both looked at him and go, 'You know what? This guy is pretty good.' We ended up taking him. You saw on tape a good football player.

"You guys [Cleveland] are in the same situation. You have one there that was the same gig. You put on the tape, and it tells you the story. These guys both are heck of a football players. The National Football League is very lucky to have both of them."