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Take Two: Will Baker Mayfield slide out of first round of NFL Draft?

Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield (AP Images)

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the network of team sites.

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Baker Mayfield has had an amazing career at Oklahoma and it’s not done yet, as he’s considered nearly unbeatable now for the Heisman Trophy and the Sooners are fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings.

A lot of Oklahoma’s success the last few seasons is because of Mayfield, who is completing more than 71 percent of his passes for 3,559 yards with 31 touchdowns and five picks this season, and he’s rushed for five more scores.

Mayfield is super-talented and super-competitive, but there are also significant questions about what kind of NFL quarterback he will make. Is he too short? Can he stop taking so many big hits? What kind of quarterback will he be when he cannot run as much and cannot freelance as much in and out of the pocket? Are Big 12 defenses so bad that they’ve masked some of Mayfield’s inadequacies?

The opinions are all over the place - anywhere from Baker being a surefire first-round pick to a marginal first-round pick to one mock draft rating him eighth among available quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.

It’s a deep quarterback group, with UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and many others. A bunch of quarterbacks could be taken in the first round.

Could NFL teams possibly pass up someone as talented as Mayfield, someone who’s a proven winner and a big-time star, in the first round?


“Let’s be perfectly clear on one thing: When it comes to Mayfield, there is not a problem with arm talent or velocity. I’ve seen Sam Bradford for three years, I’ve seen Jason White for seven years, or however long he was here. Even though I wasn’t his biggest fan, I’ve seen Landry Jones for four years, and he could spin it. Mayfield has the arm strength needed to be an NFL quarterback. He makes throws he doesn’t have to make just to make them at times. There is no quadrant on the football field that is out of his reach.

“Size is no doubt going to be an issue for NFL teams. I’m not even sure Baker is 6-feet. He might be 5-foot-11 or 5-foot-10 when the combine rolls around. I have watched Drew Brees a lot over the years, and I’ve marveled at his ability to make throws through passing windows. But even with Brees, there are just passes he can’t make at times because of the lack of throwing windows at his size.

“One thing I do like about Mayfield is that he is not a guy who has had a lot of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. I saw that a lot with Trevor Knight. And Baker has an offensive line that goes 6-foot-8 (Orlando Brown), 6-foot-4 (Ben Powers/Cody Ford), 6-foot-1 (Erick Wren), 6-foot-5 (Dru Samia) and 6-foot-4 (Bobby Evans).

"Everyone knows about Mayfield’s internal drive and fortitude. They know about his toughness and his ability to extend plays. He’s also the best since Bradford at getting through his progressions. His deep accuracy is the best part about his game. White was the only OU QB I’ve covered that matched him there. I’m not betting against Mayfield making it in the NFL. He keeps lists over that kind of stuff.

"The Brett Favre comparisons are the ones that I see fitting the most. Mayfield, like Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, has an amazing offensive line that allows him to do whatever he wants at times. But I’ve also seen him carry a team with just one returning offensive weapon in Mark Andrews. And he’s made them the best offense in college football. I don’t know if NFL teams will draft Mayfield in the first round. Like every quarterback in the NFL, he’s not going to carry a team by himself. But if you’ve got good players and an offensive line, he will make you better.”


“I think he’ll be a late first-rounder. That’s where I would take him. He’s not big, and that’s the major problem. You wonder if he’s going to get killed. But the way he improvises, the way he throws the ball from all angles, the way he sees the field, his competitiveness, all that stuff, all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback, he has those.

“He’s not just a big guy and he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, so I think that’s why people are questioning him. Mayfield throws a really nice ball, but he doesn’t have an absolute gun and he’s just so small, NFL teams will think twice about him. He’ll probably be the fifth or fourth quarterback taken, but I would take him late in the first round.”