Baker Mayfield started the season projected by most as a mid-to-late round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but a number of factors have Mayfield shooting up draft boards. A combination of underwhelming seasons from some of the other top college quarterback prospects, combined with the stellar 2017 season Mayfield has had could contribute to Mayfield being selected in the late first or early second round of next year’s draft.
At ESPN’s College Football Awards media day, Kirk Herbstreit spoke with Heavy on why he believes Mayfield would succeed as an NFL quarterback.
He has to go into a system that fits his skill set. If you look at the NFL, and how it is trending, it’s no longer Peyton Manning. It’s no longer 6’5″, 235 pounds throwing the ball from the pocket. That’s still there, but there are more and more examples of guys who are athletic. More and more examples of guys who can buy time. He’s not just a wild card. He’s not just a guy that is an athletic kid running around like a crazy man…People who have not seen him play will be very impressed with how disciplined he is from the pocket. He only [runs] when he has to. He’s not just running around [during games]. The only thing about him is his height. Look at the NFL and some of the guys that are playing now. Case Keenum, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, there are a ton of guys who are about his height.
Mayfield is listed at 6’1″ and 220 pounds. While Mayfield will need to get stronger to excel at the next level, he does already have some muscle, and a frame that could add a few more pounds.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper wrote in a recent article he believes Mayfield is going to be compared to Johnny Manziel (unfavorably) and Russell Wilson (favorably).
He has a quick release and an underrated arm, and I love the way he competes. He’s athletic, too…The only recent sub-6-foot quarterback who was drafted in the first round was Johnny Manziel, who lasted just two disastrous seasons in the league. Now, Mayfield and Manziel are completely different quarterbacks, but they’re going to be compared to each other for a long time because of their size and because of the way they act on the field. Manziel is a former Heisman winner who had a couple of high-profile taunting incidents. It’s easy to make the connection. I think Mayfield’s build is more similar to Wilson’s than Manziel’s, but Mayfield has to prove during interviews with teams over the next five months that he’s more like Wilson than Manziel.
In conversations with NFL front office personnel, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks reported Mayfield’s grade is all over the map with NFL teams. One anonymous scout noted to NFL.com he has questions about Mayfield’s size.
The lack of size and athleticism are major issues for me. You can’t compare him to Russell Wilson or even Tyrod Taylor because he’s not as explosive or as dynamic. … It’s hard for a short quarterback to play in this league unless they’re phenomenal athletes. He has to be able to move around to find passing lanes and I don’t know if he will be able to move enough to succeed in the league.
However, some talent evaluators are much higher on Mayfield’s pro potential. One NFL personnel director explained to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller why Mayfield has helped his NFL draft stock.
Four months ago I thought he was a Day 3 pick. Watch the Ohio State game and you’ll see an NFL-caliber quarterback. I’d take him in the first round. I love the kid.
Miller is one of the analysts that is the most bullish on Mayfield as an NFL quarterback, as Miller has Mayfield being drafted by the Jets with the No. 7 pick in his latest mock draft.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has Mayfield as his 27th ranked prospect for 2018, and fourth ranked quarterback in his latest NFL draft big board.
As of now, I project Mayfield to go in the second or third round in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, he still has one and potentially two more football games remaining on the biggest possible stage for an NCAA quarterback, the College Football Playoff. Last year, we saw Patrick Mahomes skyrocket up the draft in the final months of the draft process to become a first round quarterback, and it would not be surprising if Mayfield did the same.