Baker Mayfield: Can he be the next Dak, Wilson?

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield /

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is on track for another Heisman worthy season, but will his stellar play translate to the next level?

With the rare depth in the 2018 quarterback class, there is scope for one of college football’s most exhilarating playmakers to go under the radar come draft time.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is in his third year with the Sooners.  He looks likely to be a Heisman finalist for the third straight time. He has led his team to a 2-0 start, including a historic 31-16 win over Ohio State in Columbus.

Mayfield’s performance in last week’s victory, and his antics afterwards, embody who he is on the field. Clutch, passionate, and competitive to a T.

The fourth-year senior is arguably the best leader in college football. He brings a never say die attitude to every contest, and his fiery nature inspires teammates.

In short, his intangibles are outstanding. Adding to that, his ability to make plays with both his arm and legs. This makes Baker Mayfield second only to Lamar Jackson in college football right now.

He has 13 rushing td’s, and a whopping 76 passing scores, in his past two seasons in Norman. This highlights just how prolific the 22-year-old signal caller has been. When you consider that in this time he threw just 15 picks and completed a shade over 69% of his throws, the merit of those numbers only escalates.

However, despite his undeniable success in the college game, Mayfield isn’t being discussed among the upper echelons of the 2018 draft class.

Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and even Mason Rudolph are garnering much more attention than the former walk on.

His less than ideal size and arm strength are the major reasons scouts aren’t as high on him. However, could he end up being the 2018 draft’s success story in the style of Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson?

Don’t be dubious about Baker

Mayfield has overcome football adversity since day one of his college career. He started off at Texas Tech.  There he became the first walk-on true freshman quarterback to start game one in major college football history.

However, after losing his job to Davis Webb he transferred to Oklahoma in 2015 with no guarantees of a place on the team. Mayfield is the only Heisman finalist to walk-on at two schools.

His resilience and self belief are astounding, and he has the playmaking ability to back it up.

Whilst his height (listed as 6’1) doesn’t fit the mould of a prototypical NFL quarterback, neither does Russell Wilson’s. And, although Wilson is an outlier in this way, Mayfield has the same kind of leadership ability and competitive nature that have helped make the Seahawks QB so successful in the NFL.

More from NFL Draft News

The Sooner QB doesn’t have the arm strength of Wilson. Though he can certainly make all the throws and shares a similar elusive ability outside the pocket. His extend-the-play ability is outstanding and draws comparisons to another college superstar, Johnny Manziel.

However, Mayfield is a much better pure passer than Manziel and has the accuracy required to succeed as pro quarterback. Naturally, the way he is overlooked in comparison to other prospects makes his story relatable to that of Wilson and 2016 phenomenon, Dak Prescott.

And, according to one scout, Mayfield will be drafted in the same territory as the former Mississippi State signal caller.

If that is the case, one team could be getting an absolute steal. It is evidently difficult to overcome size limitations in the pro game. Aside from Wilson and Michael Vick, there are very few examples of long-term franchise quarterback’s in the modern game being around the 6ft mark.

However, it is increasingly hard to look past the natural playmaking ability and on field intangibles of Mayfield. He is as organic a leader as you will find and is rather unflappable in the clutch.

Traits he shares with both Wilson and Prescott. The pro-bowl pair might be slightly more mobile than the Sooner QB, but through each player’s Sophomore and Junior years in college, Mayfield is the one who leads the trio statistically.

Through these two years, Mayfield threw for more yards, more touchdowns, fewer picks and completed a higher percentage of his passes than both Wilson and Prescott.

This could be significant in the long run and although the game isn’t played on paper, it bodes well.

His accuracy as a passer is arguably the most important of all the factors when considering if he could surprise with his level of play once he reaches the pros. Mayfield completed an astounding 64.1% of his passes as a true freshman at Texas Tech.

Somehow that number has increased in each season since

He was up to 68.1% in 2015. Then he produced a simply ridiculous season in 2016 in which he tossed 40 touchdowns and had a 71% completion rate. Additionally, he averaged over 11 yards per pass, proving his arm strength doesn’t limit his ability to throw the ball down the field.

These numbers are exceptional and this kind of accuracy is a major reason why his level of play can translate to the NFL. When you also include his ability to throw on the run, and his threat as a red zone runner, it paints the picture of a quarterback who’s only major limitation is his height.

And, as we see with Wilson, that is not a hindrance in rare instances. His gunslinger mentality and sometimes frantic feet are aspects of his game that can get him in trouble though.

These areas of his game will need to refined at the next level. But, his competitiveness and toughness are enough to get over issues like this to some degree. Maybe most importantly, Mayfield is a proven winner and a real team centric guy.

Having the ability to bind a locker room is so important in the NFL. Mayfield has clearly done this in his time in Norman. He almost has a Jameis Winston like quality about him in this respect.

Clearly there are no dead cert prospects and Mayfield does have his limitations that will put teams off selecting him. He does have the talent to succeed in the NFL though, and so much of the game for a quarterback is won and lost between the ears.

Mayfield excels in this respect, especially as a leader. He may need to improve some of his decision-making, especially when throwing down the field. A savvy quarterback coach can work some of those discrepancies out his game with time.

He is far from being a guaranteed star, or even a guaranteed starter, in the NFL and a lot will depend on which team he goes to. But, the Senior is starting to put together another outstanding season in Norman. He is displaying traits that remind one of the two aforementioned pro bowl quarterback’s along the way.

Next: 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Week 2 Version

In short, Mayfield certainly could be the 2018 version of Dak or Wilson. He will likely go off the board in rounds 2-4 like both of those guys. And, he could end up being a pleasant surprise for the team that takes a chance on him.

Only time will tell how his game translates into the NFL. For now, we can all enjoy the spectacular plays Mayfield churns out in his final year as a Sooner.