CLEVELAND — Former National Football League wide receiver turned broadcaster Nate Burleson is no stranger to making big claims, and he was up to his old tricks once again, this time talking about a record set by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Burleson is confident that Mayfield’s rookie record of 27 passing touchdowns will be broken this season by Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and spoke on the topic on a recent episode of “Good Morning Football” on the NFL Network.
“He could have 30 touchdowns, 20 of them passing, 10 rushing, I hear you on that. For some reason, I do feel like he’s going to go off,” Burleson said. “If David Johnson starts off the season the way that I believe he can, it’s going to open up so much for Kyler Murray.
“When he hits them with a run fake, and there’s a sweep motion, there’s going to be lanes opening up everywhere. As long as he can stay healthy, he’s going to get in the end zone quite a bit.”
Burleson went so far as to predict Murray would throw for “30 touchdowns,” three more than Mayfield registered in 14 games and 13 starts in 2018.
“You hear these reports out of camp that the offense is explosive and they’re mimicking what he did in college, even Larry Fitzgerald came out and said, ‘we’re going to pass the ball a ton’ with almost a sick smile on his face as if he’s been in an offense where they never got the ball out,” Burleson said.
“This is a 100-catch receiver going to the Hall of Fame, so that makes me think Kyler Murray’s going to drop back and throw this ball 50 times a game, and if he does that, of course he should tap-dance around 27 touchdowns.”
In leading the University of Oklahoma to the 2018 Big 12 Championship, Murray completed 260 of his 377 attempts (69.0 percent) for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns. Additionally, Murray rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns on 140 carries.
While Murray was leading the Sooners back to the College Football Playoff, Mayfield was capturing the attention of the NFL with a record-setting rookie season.
After taking over the first-team offense in the second quarter of a come-from-behind win over the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland in Week 3, Mayfield completed 310 of his 486 attempts (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
Although Mayfield does not get official credit for the victory over the Jets because he came on in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor, the first-year quarterback guided the Browns to seven wins and the greatest single-year turnaround in franchise history.
Individually, Mayfield set franchise records for the most passing touchdowns and yards by a rookie, and his 3,725 yards rank as the sixth-best single-season in team history, regardless of years of service. Additionally, Mayfield had three of the top five passing yards games by a rookie, as well as the fourth-most accurate season of any Browns quarterback ever.
With new Browns coach Freddie Kitchens calling the plays as the interim offensive coordinator during the second half of the 2018 season, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
“To think, Baker could’ve had more,” veteran NFL defensive back DeAngelo Hall said in response to Burleson’s claims. “If he started the season out as the guy, he could’ve had more, and he had 27 and broke the record.”