Baker Mayfield is a rebel without a pause, and that’s who the Browns took with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.
“I can handle the spotlight,” Mayfield said last month at the NFL Combine. “I think under pressure is something I thrive on. First things first. You’ve got to win. Doesn’t matter where you are.”
Mayfield does things his way. It started while he was growing up in Austin, home of the University of Texas. But Mayfield wasn’t a fan of the Longhorns. He attended their games as a kid but he adored the University of Oklahoma. When Mayfield became of age to choose a college, it wasn’t Texas. He wanted to play for the Longhorns’ rivals such as Texas Tech, TCU and the Sooners.
Yet none offered a scholarship and he walked on at Texas Tech, winning the starting quarterback job as a true freshman and earning the Big 12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year award. It wasn’t enough. He transferred after communication issues with the coaching staff and went to, you guessed it, Oklahoma.
Mayfield’s college career wasn’t highlighted by earning the starting job as a walk-on at two schools, but by being named the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner.
Mayfield is a brash underdog who was one of the more accurate quarterbacks in college. In three seasons at OU, he completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 12,292 yards with 119 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Off and on the field, Mayfield had issues. In February 2017, he was arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest. He planted the Oklahoma flag at midfield after a win at Ohio State, and he grabbed his crotch and yelled profanities at the Kansas sideline. After his college career was over, he was seen at a Clippers game in Los Angeles with an Instagram model.
Can you say Johnny Manziel 2.0?
“Everybody wants to portray the bad boy, the Johnny Manziel stuff,” Mayfield said at the Senior Bowl in January. “But I love the game of football, there’s no doubt about that. I’m an emotional player. I will do whatever it takes to win. I love being around my teammates and I love leading and having a responsibility.”
These issues didn’t stop Mayfield from impressing enough NFL personnel people during the draft processs. He’s stormed through from the very beginning, doing it his own way, whether it’s addressing his height (6-1), ability to make all the throws or his attitude. He reportedly hung up on Brett Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, because he didn’t think he did his homework. And speaking of homework, Mayfield admitted when he didn’t do his. He didn’t study the Los Angeles Chargers’ playbook enough before a pre-draft interview.
“It could have gone a little bit better,” Mayfield said to Sports Illustrated. “But at the same time, I’m prioritizing which playbooks I’m going to learn. No offense to them, but I’ve got a lot on my plate.”