Baker Mayfield relishing opportunity to prove himself again — this time, in NFL

Cleveland took a big swing by drafting Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Who says it can't hit this time?

NORMAN, Okla. — Baker Mayfield’s NFL Draft stock continued to rise Wednesday.

During Oklahoma’s Pro Day, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner didn’t run, jump or participate in any other agility tests. Rather, Mayfield showed off his arm in a series of throwing drills — and the results were strong. He completed 62 of 70 scripted throws, with one drop.

“I think I put myself in a good position today,” Mayfield said.

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Other than a drunken arrest in Arkansas last winter, a cocky moment of celebration with an OU flag at Ohio Stadium and a loss of composure on the sideline at Kansas, Mayfield’s stock has been trending up since his senior season got underway. Since the offseason began, that trend has picked up steam.

“Absolutely,” Mayfield said. “I feel like I’ve put myself in a good spot here to be considered the best quarterback in the draft, no matter the height question or if people question the character. I think all these meetings have been great for me. I put myself in a good spot. It’s kind of interesting to think about: Before the season they had me at a third- or fourth-round grade, and now it’s improved a little bit.”

Now Mayfield is widely regarded as a first-round talent, with a strong possibility of being drafted early in the first round. Most mock drafts peg him within the top 10 picks (Sporting News has him going 11th overall).

“You hear things, but you never know the truth,” Mayfield said. “All I can do is focus on my game and focus on handling myself and putting myself in position in those meetings to show what I’m capable of mentally.”


With free agency arriving Wednesday, the NFL's offseason quarterback derby is evolving daily; that may ultimately impact Mayfield’s draft fate.

But the 32 teams in attendance for Mayfield’s throwing session included some high-level decision-makers, such as Broncos general manager John Elway and coach Vance Joseph; Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan; and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Denver sent the largest contingent with seven representatives, including senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak. The Giants sent five.

But seeing Elway in attendance?

“Pretty surreal,” Mayfield said. “I never would have thought that would be a thing."

“I think you see genuine interest from everyone that’s here,” one scout said of Mayfield. “That’s not any kind of deception talk or red herring. We’re all interested in (Mayfield) because he’s an interesting guy. Not everyone has an interest in drafting him, but that doesn’t mean you won’t watch.”

“He did good,” another scout said, “which is what you’d expect. He’s a good player. Just turn on the tape, you can see that. But yeah, I think you saw today that he can make all the throws. That’s probably what most people were looking at today.”


That’s good news to Mayfield, who said that’s exactly what he set out to do.

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“I felt at the Combine, a couple deep balls that I left short, today I felt like I made that correction,” he said. “You know, timing routes, like comebacks and out routes, when you throw to guys frequently, those come with time. I feel like I did what I needed to do today.”


With the exception of the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, Mayfield has prepared for his impending NFL career mostly in California. He has changed that up a bit, with his home training base in Norman for the next two weeks. After that, he’ll spend another week training back in California before beginning the process of visiting NFL teams.

“Roller coaster,” Mayfield said. “Lot of traveling. It’s an interesting process, you know, people trying to evaluate your game, find your flaws, everything like that. But you only get to do it once. You’ve got to enjoy it. That’s the thing that I’ve heard from everybody that’s gone through it, is that you’ve got to be able to enjoy it. Not everybody gets to go through this, so have fun with it and go out there and show out.”

Mayfield reiterated that, while the Heisman and all his other college successes were great and the allure of a big NFL contract is enticing, he will continue to play the role of unwanted, undersized walk-on.

“Before all this, nobody really knew how I motivated myself,” he said. “And now the question is, 'Am I too aggressive? Too much?' I’m going to keep doing what’s gotten me here. Yeah, there’s some fine-tuning, some polishing up to do. But at the same time, if I don’t stay motivated, then what’s the point? You’ve got to improve. You’ve got to keep getting better.

“I still haven’t played a down in the NFL, and I want to be the greatest ever to play the game. So for me, it’s starting back over — and I love that.”