Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a pass at the recent Scouting combine.
Baker Mayfield isn't 6-foot-4 and he isn't here to necessarily say or do all the right things.
But the Oklahoma product is in the conversation as the draft's best quarterback in spite of – and perhaps even in part, because of – perceived shortcomings.
"Teams ask me about my character, but until you sit down and talk to me directly, you might have the image that's portrayed in stories or headlines," Mayfield said at the recent Scouting combine. "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. 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.''
The sureness flows from Mayfield wherever he is. He takes exception to being called cocky – "That's not cockiness, it's just
confidence" – but he leaves no room to doubt how he thinks.
Mayfield is only 6-foot-1, but he can point to the success of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. He may have caused a stir by planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield at Ohio State or made an obscene gesture at the end of a game against Kansas, but he'll let teams know that's only emotion (and that he knows he has to work on that part of his game.) He may have been arrested in a stupid moment running from police while intoxicated, but he isn't shying away from talking about that, either.
Teams must reconcile such things if they want Mayfield. The other stuff – 70 percent completions, 119 touchdown passes and only 21 interceptions as a starter at Oklahoma, winning 33 of 39 starts – are what make him so attractive.
Once, it seemed possible that Mayfield could last until the middle of the first round, perhaps down to 15, when the Cardinals are on the clock. After the Scouting combine, that seems less likely, with most pegging Mayfield as a top 10 pick given all the quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft.
"What makes me the best option?" Mayfield said. "Accuracy, I can make any throw. Winning, that's the most important, but the way I've been able to get my guys around me to play, not just the offensive players around me, the other 10 guys, but defensive guys, special teams, the energy I bring, the passion I bring, it's infectious."
That was clear from the Oklahoma teammates that joined Mayfield at the combine.
"There's two people that come to mind as the best teammates I have ever had," tight end and Scottsdale Desert Mountain product Mark Andrews said. "One is (Bengals running back) Joe Mixon and the second is Baker Mayfield. He is one of my best friends, but an incredible teammate. Someone that you'll run though a brick wall for and there aren't many people like that."
Added tackle Orlando Brown, "From a character standpoint, I know there's been a lot of issues in the public eye, from the crotch grabbing to what's happened in Arkansas. But in reality, who he is as a person, I've never experienced anything wrong or anything bad. You can ask anyone who knows him: He's an incredible person."
The name of former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was invoked at one point during Mayfield's press conference. Arians would often talk about the difficulty young quarterbacks – especially those who came in too confident – might have difficulty in winning over veteran teammates.
Those guys, Arians would say, are "grown-ass men."
"Everybody in that locker room has earned that place in the locker room, those guys are trying to feed their families," Mayfield said. "I'm not going to act like I've got it all figured out. I've always been the first one to say my mistake and we need to get better.''
Images of Cardinals when they were draft prospects