In six months, Baker Mayfield is going to be drafted. In the months between then and now, he will easily be one of the most talked about prospects.
The Heisman Trophy contender began his collegiate career in 2013 at Texas Tech, where he’s believed to be the first walk-on to ever start a season opener for a FBS team as a true freshman. He finished the year with 12 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions, but eventually lost the starting job due to a combination of injuries and the emergence of Davis Webb.
Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma — which created a bit of an ugly breakup with Texas Tech — and stepped back in to the spotlight when he became eligible to play in 2015.
After 76 passing touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Sooners, he already has 23 touchdowns and just three interceptions in eight games so far in 2017.
Although Saquon Barkley is still the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy next month, Mayfield is certainly in the mix and will likely one of the players invited to the ceremony.
But it’s his chance at shaking up the first round in the draft that makes Mayfield really worth keeping a close eye on for NFL fans. Saturday against Oklahoma State is a good place to start.
1. Mayfield has a chance to be the No. 1 pick
We’ve spent much of the last six months or so talking about USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen headlining the list of quarterbacks battling for the top spot. Yet it’s Mayfield who has the best grade on Pro Football Focus and landed No. 1 on the site’s latest mock draft.
There’s also the possibility that Darnold, a sophomore, and Rosen, a junior, stay in school after underwhelming 2017 seasons.
Even if one or both enter the NFL draft, they’ll still have to contend with Mayfield, who continues to look like a special player.
2. Mayfield is a highlight machine
He may play in an offense that inflates his stats, but Mayfield can also make dazzling plays. He has the speed to run around rushers, the poise to keep his eyes downfield, and a huge arm that can make all the throws.
He’s completed 72.5 percent of his passes, which is a testament to the efficiency of the Sooners’ offense, but also to Mayfield’s ability.
3. His size will raise question marks
For the same reason Wyoming’s Josh Allen got a ridiculous amount of hype that heaped unfair expectations on the 6’5, 240-pound quarterback, Mayfield has flown under the draft radar because he’s 6’1, 220 pounds.
And that’s 6’1 according to Oklahoma. There’s always the possibility that pre-draft measurements will be shorter.
Is that a problem?
Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Doug Flutie and other shorter quarterbacks who found success would say no. But NFL decision makers love raw size and ability that they hope they can shape into something special.
4. Mason Rudolph is playing too
Rudolph is closer to the type of prototype quarterback that scouts gravitate toward and he’ll be on display Saturday night too. The Oklahoma State quarterback is 6’5, 230 pounds and has 22 touchdowns with five interceptions.
With such a high-profile quarterback matchup for Bedlam, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah asked five scouts which passer they preferred.
Three picked Mayfield and two picked Rudolph.
There’s a good chance both land in the first round in April and Saturday will draw the eyes of any team on the lookout for a new quarterback.
25 scouts expected for the Mayfield-Rudolph QB clash at OU-Oklahoma State.— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) November 3, 2017
Don't have every club, but odds are, your team's there.
5. Folks will have a lot of opinions about his personality
But the biggest reason everybody is going to be talking about Mayfield over the next six months is that he’s as divisive as it gets for his off-field personality.
Then there’s the time he planted an Oklahoma flag in the middle of the Ohio State logo at Ohio Stadium:
And people will undoubtedly have thoughts on his dancing ability too, if only because it’s not something you usually see out of a quarterback.
There will be comparisons to Johnny Manziel; that’s unavoidable.
Manziel was also an undersized dynamo with the ability to fill up a highlight reel and make all the throws. He, too, was arrested while in college, and he also evoked plenty of opinions.
The way Manziel’s NFL career spiraled out of control will leave Mayfield attempting to convince everyone he’s not that person. But even if you don’t like Mayfield, NFL fans should get used to hearing his name.