Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley lived up to early expectations as the top two picks in the National Football League draft in their first action as the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey. By the end of his junior season, a panel of Penn State experts said Barkley had surpassed him.
The very first play of Thursday night's preseason opener was a handoff to Barkley and with one quick burst the rookie running back showed what all the fuss is about. Then he bounced it outside and gained the edge on flat-footed Browns CB Damarious Randall. Webb struggled in the first half, competing only 8 of 20 passes often wild-high with his throws. He finished with three catches for 83 yards.
Taylor and Landry are the faces of an influx of talent this offseason following the franchise's first winless season. He then almost found controversial rookie Antonio Callaway, in the lineup only days after receiving a marijuana citation that he didn't immediately inform the Browns of, on a deep shot that Callaway couldn't locate. He continued marching the offense, twice keeping the drive alive with his legs - on third-and-6 and fourth-and-2 - to set up Cleveland with first-and-goal.
"I don't think I was tempted [to run right away]", Mayfield said. He received a ton of work in six series and looked, well, mostly like the big-play magician who won the Heisman trophy past year. Plenty of fascinating players will be in action, including rookies like Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, veterans like Andrew Luck, and young players getting their starting shot like Patrick Mahomes.
It's only one preseason game, but there were plenty of reasons to be hopeful.