With the third pick in the NFL draft, the New York Jets are expected to select a quarterback. We’ll preview the top four prospects — Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.
On Monday, we profiled Allen. On Tuesday, Darnold. Next up: Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
6-foot-1, 215 pounds
In a nutshell: Mayfield is a modern-day version of Rudy, except he did more than just get into the game. He dominated it at the highest level — for three years. The two-time walk-on (Texas Tech, Oklahoma) is one of the most decorated players in college football history, a brash playmaker who infuriated opponents with his on-field antics and trash talking but endeared himself to teammates and the state of Oklahoma. He’s the most compelling prospect in the draft. He’s a winner with ridiculous accuracy, but his height and spread-offense background are concerns. There’s also the character issue: In February 2017, Mayfield was arrested, and he later pleaded guilty to public intoxication, fleeing police and disorderly conduct. A dash-cam video of the incident went viral, showing him shouting and cursing police officers. Mayfield has top-10 talent, but the baggage could cause some teams to shy away.
How he fits the Jets: They’ve warmed to him over the past year, so much so that some people around the league believe the Jets will draft him. It would be an outside-the-box choice for general manager Mike Maccagnan, but it could turn out to be a genius move. Mayfield’s confidence and fiery competitiveness would infuse the franchise with hope and — dare we say it? — swagger. When was the last time the Jets got that from a young quarterback? Schematically, he’d be an ideal fit in their West Coast offense. He reads quickly, puts the ball in small windows and can throw on the move — a 67 percent completion rate on such passes. The two best indicators of NFL success are starting experience and completion rate, and Mayfield (38-8 and 69.8) is heads and shoulders above the other top quarterback prospects. His metrics are among the best in history, according to Football Outsiders.
Other than his size, the biggest questions surrounding him pertain to non-football matters: Would he self-destruct in New York? Could his sizable ego handle backup duty? The Jets have done a lot of homework on Mayfield, who dined with CEO Christopher Johnson on Monday night. Former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who has tutored him throughout the pre-draft process, told ESPN recently that Mayfield can succeed in the Big Apple if he’s surrounded by the right support group. Pennington said, “When you approach this business as an entertainer, you will get eaten up. You have to keep it about the game of football.” My sense is that Mayfield could be the pick at No. 3. Oh, baby, that would be seismic. After years of playing it safe, it’s time to make a bold move.
By the numbers: Mayfield’s Oklahoma career was legendary: three Big 12 titles, two College Football Playoff berths and one Heisman Trophy. … He went 38-8 as a starter, including 5-2 as a true freshman at Texas Tech. He left Tech when the coach opened up the quarterback job. He walked on at Oklahoma without an invitation. … In three years at Oklahoma, he led the FBS with 119 touchdown passes. … Critics say his completion percentage is inflated because of so many hitches and quick screens, but he actually completed 53 percent of his attempts on throws of at least 21 yards — best among Power 5 quarterbacks in 2017. … He set an FBS record with multiple TD passes in 27 straight games. … He became the first walk-on to win the Heisman. … He scored a 25 on the Wonderlic intelligence test — above average, but lower than Allen, Darnold and Rosen. … His 40 time was 4.84 seconds.
What evaluators are saying: Mike Mayock of NFL Network: “Components of the West Coast system fit him well, but there has to be components of the RPO [run-pass opton] and play-action. Get him out on the run. He’s an exciting talent. I think an intelligent coach will know how to use him to the best of his ability.” … ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: “Baker brings a lot of that drama with him. … That’s one of the concerns with Baker Mayfield, in addition to being 6-foot-and a half.” … Dolphins coach Adam Gase: “I think Baker’s personality is something that’s infectious to other guys. I think there’s a competitiveness you love to see. You can tell he doesn’t want to lose at anything he’s doing.” … Former Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, on ESPN: “Baker’s my favorite guy of these guys. To me, Baker just has it.”
In his own words: “Teams ask me about my character, but until you sit down and talk to me directly, you might have image that’s portrayed in stories or headlines. But I love the game, I’m up front and honest, I know exactly what I’m about and that’s the most important thing. What you see is what you get. I’ve always been brutally honest and 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 get drafted to a team that knows exactly what they’re getting.’’– Mayfield at the scouting combine.