He’s brash. He’s talented.
And he’s just plain fun.
But is he Jim McMahon or Johnny Manziel?
NFL teams will try to figure that out beginning Tuesday, when Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield joins the dozens of NFL prospects at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
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The early signs are mixed, but Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, has displayed a maturity Manziel never possessed:
He agreed to participate in the all-star game when he is already projected to go in the top 10. Mayfield is the first Heisman Trophy winner to accept a Senior Bowl invitation since Tim Tebow in 2010.
Mayfield will be coached by Vance Joseph and the quarterback-needy Broncos, who pick fifth.
Denver requested the pairing, and it doesn’t take a sleuth to piece together the clues: He’s a real option for the Broncos.
“Baker is known for his competitive personality, so it's not a surprise that he would want to be in Mobile to showcase his abilities and leadership qualities,” Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said last month. “And, it's exciting for the Reese's Senior Bowl to have a Heisman Trophy winner in our game.”
But Mayfield might need to take the advice of Georgia linebacker Davin Bellany, who was caught on camera shouting “humble yourself” to Mayfield after the Bulldogs knocked the Sooners out of the College Football Playoffs on New Year’s Day.
Mayfield, who threw for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2017, is betting on himself — and his ability to avoid controversy for the next three months. Quarterbacks are held to a higher standard than are other players, and teams are surely extra wary of taking a chance on someone with behavioral red flags after Cleveland’s Manziel debacle.
You can bet the Dolphins, who are open to using their 11th overall pick on a quarterback, will do a thorough investigation. Hopefully that inquiry will be better than the one they did on Dion Jordan, who was suspended three times for drugs during his short Dolphins career. Jordan was arguably the biggest draft bust in team history.
But if Mayfield checks out and still slips out of the top 10, the history could repeat itself for Miami, who benefited from Laremy Tunsil’s slide in 2016.
Other quarterbacks to watch at a loaded Senior Bowl:
▪ Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 230: Well, he looks the part. Rudolph is big, strong and can throw the ball a mile. And while it’s hard to see him leaping Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, Rudolph could conceivably be not just the third quarterback taken in April, but the third player — period. (That’s assuming Indianapolis trades out.)
The evaluation on Rudolph is all over the map. CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso ranks him as the No. 1 quarterback in this year’s class. Some think he could slip to the 20s. The three-year starter at Oklahoma State certainly has the résumé to go 11th; he threw for 92 touchdowns with just 26 picks in college.
▪ Josh Allen, Wyoming, 6-5, 233: Another prototypical NFL quarterback, but can he play? That’s what scouts will be trying to determine this week. Allen faced just one team that finished in the top 25 in 2017, Boise State, and completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions in a Cowboys loss.
On the season, Allen completed just 56.3 percent of his throws and had 16 touchdowns.
▪ Others to watch: Luke Falk, Washington State, 6-4, 223; Kurt Benkert, Virginia, 6-4, 215; Mike White, Western Kentucky, 6-4, 225.