CLEVELAND -- As the Cleveland Browns head toward the 2019 season, the expectation of many fans is that Baker Mayfield will make the jump from promising rookie to top-10 quarterback.

According to one league analyst, however, the Browns' second-year signal-caller still has some work to do in order to get there.

With the NFL offseason in the midst of its annual lull between minicamps and training camp, NBC Sports' Chris Simms has been counting down his list of the top-40 quarterbacks in the NFL. And while Mayfield's placement is the best for his draft class, which also included Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, it could also be construed as lower than expected at No. 17.

Baker Mayfield Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns Football
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates after leading the team to a 26-18 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday, December 23, 2018.
David Richard

Simms, however, wasn't shy to heap praise on Mayfield, who Cleveland selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

"I've seen enough from Baker Mayfield to say that he's better than Derek Carr or Jared Goff going into the 2019 season," Simms said. "I don't look at Baker Mayfield and look at many weaknesses in his game other than being inexperienced and a rookie and not having played a full season. His physical ability is off the charts. His arm is big time. His ability to improvise and make those plays -- big time."

The film from Mayfield's rookie season shows as much.

Appearing in 14 games -- including 13 starts -- last season, the former Heisman Trophy winner completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,725 yards and an NFL rookie record 27 touchdown passes. In doing so, he helped lead the Browns to a 7-8-1 record -- the team's best since going 10-6 in 2007.

With another season playing under Freddie Kitchens, who served as Cleveland's interim offensive coordinator for its final eight games before being promoted to head coach, and the acquisition of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Mayfield only figures to take a giant step forward in his second season with the Browns.

Simms, for his part, agrees. But for now, he's not willing to rank Cleveland's quarterback any higher than 17.

 "With some of the quarterbacks when we talk about the top 10, you're gonna go, 'Yeah, it's kind of f---ing hard to put him in front of that guy,'" Simms said. "It goes back to there's a lot of damn good quarterbacks in football right now."

Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a pass during NFL football training camp, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)

For what it's worth, the entirety of Simms' list, which concluded on Thursday, was as follows:

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Patrick Mahomes
  3. Russell Wilson
  4. Andrew Luck
  5. Deshaun Watson
  6. Ben Roethlisberger
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Tom Brady
  10. Drew Brees
  11. Carson Wentz
  12.  Phillip Rivers
  13. Dak Prescott
  14. Matthew Stafford
  15. Kirk Cousins
  16. Nick Foles
  17. Baker Mayfield
  18. Derek Carr
  19. Jared Goff
  20. Mitchell Trubisky
  21. Jimmy Garoppolo
  22. Sam Darnold
  23. Josh Allen
  24. Kyler Murray
  25. Joe Flacco
  26. Andy Dalton
  27. Jameis Winston
  28. Case Keenum
  29. Marcus Mariota
  30. Lamar Jackson
  31. Jacoby Brissett
  32. Josh Rosen
  33. Ryan Tannehill
  34. Eli Manning
  35. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  36. Robert Griffin III
  37. Drew Lock
  38. Dwayne Haskins
  39. Colt McCoy
  40. Tyrod Taylor