Part 6 of our draft season series on Baker Mayfield, the 2018 draft’s most fascinating prospect on and off the field
One rarely discussed aspect of the interview process at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis is the teammate interview. It plays a major role in the research teams do on players, especially quarterbacks. So if you’re a combine participant who caught passes from, or blocked for, one of the quarterbacks in play for the first round, you can count on a handful of teams using a big chunks of their 15-minute interviews with you asking probing questions about your college quarterback.
And no one will get more questions about former Baker Mayfield than Mackey Award-winning former Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews. The 6' 5" Scottsdale, Ariz. native caught 112 passes for more than 1,765 yards—most of them from Mayfield—over three seasons at OU. He welcomed a practice round of questioning from The MMQB for Part 6 of our series on the quarterback.
“I’m sure I’m going to get bombarded with Baker Mayfield questions, and I’m excited for that,” Andrews says. “I’m just going to be honest with them and tell them what I think—and I think the world of him. I know he’s going to be a special quarterback in the NFL.”
On becoming OU’s leading pass-catcher, and his chemistry with Mayfield:
“We got to play on the scout team together [in 2014, when Andrews was redshirting and Mayfield was sitting out his transfer year], and it was pretty evident the type of player he was. That scout team really just lit everybody up. That was the start of our chemistry and it grew from there. He’s always got that one receiver who he really clicks with, and it comes from all the reps he puts in and all the time he puts in to get in sync with all of these guys. Before me it was Dede Westbrook. Since we’ve been playing together for so long, the communication is there. You work to maintain that connection. Obviously he’s a really good player, but he’s also very good at understanding the different receivers he’s throwing to and what they’re capable of. Speaking for myself, as a tight end, he did a great job of putting me in spaces where I needed to be.”
On expectations for the Oklahoma offense in 2017, and the changing face of defenses after wide receiver Dede Westbrook was drafted:
“We had a bunch of young receivers who, coming into the season, were underrated. They were hungry, and that’s how it needs to be. There were definitely young guys and we didn’t know how they were going to perform, but there were a lot of good pieces going into the season. In terms of coverages, one thing we didn’t see a lot in previous years that we saw a ton this year was the Cover-3 robber and 2 robber looks. That’s just defenses trying to adapt to what we do best. We saw a lot of Cover-4 in 2016. Teams tried to prevent Dede from going over the top. A lot of teams tried to play a prevent to try to stop us from throwing it deep. The guy was so explosive and extremely elusive.”
On Darrell Bevell’s observation, from Part 5 of our series, that Mayfield didn’t make a great deal of outside-the-number throws from the pocket:
“I think part of Baker is that Houdini quality. But I think one thing he did really well from the pocket was throw that timing route to the outside receiver, that seven-step out. Throwing that on-time and being in the pocket, that’s one of his best throws. One of the plays that sticks out to me, just because we worked it so many times in practice, the final touchdown in the Texas game. We called the play Celtic. We practice that play so often, so for it to be a game-winning touchdown against Texas was an incredible feeling. It’s a Cover-4 beater. The outside guy has a deep post. I have a 10-yard out and up, and the corner will usually take that skinny post and I’m open on the sideline. First he’s reading me. If it’s man, he’ll back shoulder me. We had a couple opportunities where we were a little off on it earlier in the season. It’s a hard throw for Baker. Throwing that deep out and up is not an easy thing.”
On what Mayfield was doing behind the scenes:
“He was always the guy to text everybody to get together and get in work that was not scheduled with the football team. Getting in routes and going over things, etc. And that’s huge. When you haven’t played football in a while you need to go run some routes and catch some balls with your quarterback and stay in rhythm. Having that person who demands everyone be there three or four times a week even when it’s not mandatory, was huge for us.”
On Mayfield finding success in the NFL:
“There’s no other person in this draft who can change a franchise, other than Baker Mayfield. He’s the type of guy who can flip a program. That’s just the type of player he is. He’s passionate. He loves the game. He’s a competitor. There’s no one else in this draft that’s like Baker Mayfield. I believe it’s going to translate incredibly well.”
What’s with the on-field antics?:
“What he gives you on the field is a lot of what you get off the field. He carries that chip at all time, he lives that way and spreads it through it friends. Just being around him he’s given me that chip, where you walk around and it’s you against the world and you have to prove something. He doesn’t need much. It could be the smallest thing in the world, but in his head it’s the world ending, the biggest thing ever, and he’s gonna prove you wrong. People who are good at what they do have that drive. I think about how Lee Corso said we were ‘pretenders,’ and he made a ‘pretenders’ sign and carried that everywhere. At the end of the day, I don’t care what the media says, but he takes it so seriously. People saw him carrying it to a game, but he carried sign that he carried around like a backpack, to the weight room, to meetings. It’s like, Why would you do that Baker? He would write all these things people said about him, like, Come on, man. But it’s been fun being around a guy like that, having that passion and that drive.”
Should teams be worried about him off the field?:
“I’ll say this: Baker had one incident with the police. He messed up, he knows it, he was a man about it. I don’t see that happening ever again. It’s a job now, and he’s not going to let anything come between him and this job. What you see in that video is not who he is. I can assure you, Baker’s not that kind of guy. He tries to not let people down. If a team drafts him and trusts him, he’s going to do everything in his ability to prove them right. And that’s what I’m going to tell them.”
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