INDIANAPOLIS – Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is going to be a lot of fun in the NFL, as long as a team doesn’t force him into a shell. That might be impossible anyway.
Mayfield spent a little more than 12 minutes at the NFL scouting combine on Friday telling the media, in the most matter-of-fact tone possible, how good he was. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t lack confidence. Some of the highlights:
On the possibility being drafted by the Browns: “If anybody is going to turn that franchise around it would be me. They’re close. They have the right pieces. They just need one guy, a quarterback, to make that difference.”
On the possibility of playing in New York: “I can handle the spotlight. Under pressure is something I thrive on.”
On if he thinks he’s the best QB in the draft: “Absolutely. If you don’t have that mindset, something is wrong.”
On questions about his height: “Height doesn’t matter … if you want to say anything else, I’ve got three years of tape you can watch. Height didn’t matter at that point. I think I’ve got less batted balls at the line of scrimmage than all the other guys here. I’m pretty sure I’m shorter than them.”
On the possibility of going to the Giants and learning behind Eli Manning: “First things first, whatever team I go to I’m not going to settle for a backup job. I’ve never been like that and never will. I’m going to push that person in front of me.”
On his best NFL attribute: “Accuracy. I’m the most accurate quarterback in this draft, by far.”
On his confidence: “I used to have the mindset of worrying about everybody else’s opinions. Trying to please everybody, but that’s not going to happen.”
On being compared Brett Favre: “It’s pretty special. But he was his own player and so am I. I’m going to try to be the very best. It’s a mindset I have. I’m not trying to be Brett Favre Jr., a second coming of him. I’m going to be myself and I want to be the best to ever play.”
[Watch on Yahoo: Live stream the 2018 NFL scouting combine on Yahoo Sports’ website, app]
Players are coached before the combine, for interviews with teams and the media too. Some are toned down and quiet. Mayfield definitely wasn’t toned down said he isn’t any different during his meetings with teams this week.
“What you see is what you get,” Mayfield said. “Always been brutally honest. Some people don’t like that because it’s rare nowadays. But I go into these meetings and I’m just myself. I want to be drafted to a team that knows exactly what they’re getting.
While the comparison isn’t fair for many reasons, it’s easy to look at the Heisman Trophy, the short stature and the off-field questions and compare Mayfield to Johnny Manziel.
“He’s going to have to prove in the meetings that he is a different guy than Johnny Manziel off the field, especially; that he has the character where he’s going to be the first guy in, the last to leave,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call. “You’re not going to see any of the BS you saw in college. He’s not going to be giving anybody the finger or whatever. He’s going to be about business. It’s great to be exciting and it’s great to be excitable, but at the end of the day you have to be the leader of a football team. He’s got to convince people that not only is he dynamic and a positive leader, but he’s also going to be a great guy in the locker room in the face of your franchise. That’s his challenge.”
Mayfield said he’s not the biggest fan of the Manziel comparison. Manziel fell out of the NFL for a few reasons, and one was he wasn’t committed fully to being an NFL quarterback. Mayfield went out of his way to say a few times that he’s willing to work endlessly to be a great NFL quarterback.
“People forget that he was a talented football player, first things first, before he got caught up in whatever it was,” Mayfield said. “When it comes to that comparison, no, it’s not my favorite at all. We’re two different people.”
There is a positive way to look at Mayfield’s swagger (and for the record, Mayfield said “I don’t think I’m cocky. I’m just confident.”). Mayfield does bring the kind of fire some teams like from the quarterback position.
“What I’ve seen is obviously there are some things that he’d admit that he’d want to take back,” Broncos general manager John Elway said. “A lot of times you get tied up in the emotions of the situation and where he is. I like to see a guy with that kind of passion.”
When a team picks Mayfield, they shouldn’t have any misgivings about who he is. He has said he has been honest with teams about any of the off-field issues he had in college, or on-field things like planting an Oklahoma flag on the Ohio State field or directing a crotch grab at the Kansas sideline. He isn’t going to let his confidence waver, even if that might rub some the wrong way. And if Mayfield does rub some teams the wrong way, he might not be the right quarterback for them anyway.
“I like people to see what they’ll get,” he said.
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