Baker Mayfield — fresh off his zany 48 hours in his new NFL surroundings just one week ago — is officially heading to his first full work week with the Los Angeles Rams, as they will return to practices at Thousand Oaks on Thursday, December 15.
Mayfield proved he can lead a team to come back from behind. But has the new Rams starting quarterback already found his go-to wide receiver inside the “Rams House?”
Mayfield Raves About This Rams WR
Mayfield turned former seventh rounder Ben Skowronek into his first primary target against the Las Vegas Raiders in the 17-16 win in Inglewood.
“Benny Skow” went on to deliver career-best numbers of seven catches for 89 yards including snatching this jump ball that kept the Rams’ final drive alive. Mayfield spoke vibrantly about “Benny Skow” in his Monday, December 12 conversation with NBC’s Football Morning in America columnist/insider Peter King — including revealing if he’s the wideout Mayfield will trust moving forward.
“Those are the moments in a two-minute drill, somebody’s gotta make a play,” Mayfield said of Skowronek’s play, especially during the last two-minute drill. “Catching it right on top of the DB’s head, with the safety bearing down on him? That’s a guy I’m gonna trust, a lot.”
Mayfield added how he already took a liking to Skowronek’s towering and physical frame when it came to that matchup he drew.
“I mean, he’s a big dude. [Skowronek stands at 6-foot-3]. He’s a contested-catch guy. I just threw it up there and gave him a chance,” Mayfield said regarding that play that gave the Rams the first down while additionally putting them in Raiders territory.
Skowronek Has Made Contested Grabs Before
While watching Skowronek emerge as the first lead target for Mayfield in the Rams uniform, a catch like the one he executed late in the Raiders game is realistically nothing new for the versatile receiver/tight end/fullback.
During his Northwestern days, Skowronek would win dives and jump ball battles while facing Big 10 competition.
He even miraculously hauled in one grab with three Akron defensive backs crowding him, which is the first play of this clip:
While he only played one season in South Bend, Indiana for Norte Dame, he caught five total touchdowns during the truncated coronavirus season — two versus Pittsburgh and three against Boston College, with the latter game shining a light on his hops:
And before the Rams grabbed him as the 22nd pick of the final round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance Zierlein of nfl.com wrote how Skowronek was a “highly competitive pass catcher with great size and good route technique” yet was “missing suddenness and long speed as an outside target.” Zierlein believed a move to tight end was in the cards…even ending with “Skowronek could be the next Robert Tonyan if given a chance at that spot” as he referred to the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowler.
Skowronek, though, has become a rare chess piece for Sean McVay even before Mayfield arrived. Now, he became the recipient of the most receptions in Mayfield’s Rams debut. Yet, while Ram and NFL fans were left buzzing over his highly-concentrated fourth quarter catch versus Vegas, Skowronek reminded that executing those plays is nothing new to him.
“It’s something I’ve done my whole life playing receiver, being able to win those contested catches, deep balls, stuff like that,” he said after the win. “I haven’t been able to do it so much in the NFL yet, so it feels great, but at the end of day, it was like, ‘make a play.’ There’s no other option but to make a play.”