Baker Mayfield a polarizing prospect for the Arizona Cardinals

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield /

With rumors swirling that the Arizona Cardinals may be on the lookout for a chance to move up in the upcoming NFL Draft and select one of the top quarterbacks, one name has emerged.

The Cardinals front office is reportedly in love with Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield’s tantalizing talent has never been questioned, as he led his Oklahoma Sooners to a FBS Playoff Berth and earned himself a Heisman Trophy this past season in Norman. But the question remains, whether or not Mayfield’s unique playing style will translate to the NFL level?

While playing in Lincoln Reilly’s spread offense, Mayfield excelled as the top passer in college football. But Reilly’s scheme, much like many of his Big 12 colleagues, is a shotgun based, one-read offense that has rarely prepared quarterbacks for the NFL level.

This year, Mayfield has benefited from the play of quarterbacks Jared Goff, and Case Keenum, who have recently bucked the trend of spread offense collegiate quarterbacks failing to compete in pro-style offenses. Mayfield is also a benefactor of the Russell Wilson effect. As the diminutive signal caller in Seattle has challenged the notion that quarterbacks under six feet can’t compete on Sundays.

But even those that aren’t worried about Mayfield’s college scheme and height disadvantage, still have to weigh the off-the-field concerns that come with.

In February of 2017, Mayfield was arrested on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. Throughout the following season, Mayfield’s on-the-field antics provided scouting departments throughout the league with additional red-flags.

After a win against Ohio State, Mayfield stamped the Oklahoma University Flag into the turf of Ohio Stadium. During a game against the University of Kansas, Mayfield was spotted gesturing obscene motions to Kansas players, while roaming the Oklahoma sideline.

Now just days away from this year’s draft, Mayfield has failed to quell concerns about his leadership ability, commitment, and attitude.

In a discussion with a scout for the Chicago Bears, at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Mayfield showed little interest in talking to the scout, and acted in an openly disrespectful manner.

On a recent visit to the Los Angeles Chargers, Mayfield lacked a familiarity with the Chargers’ offensive playbook, and cited the Chargers draft position as a reasoning for his lack of preparedness.

All things considered, I’m concerned about Mayfield’s demeanor, and if I was an NFL general manager, I would not select him with my first round pick.

I do like Mayfield as a player. I’m enamored with his confidence, and his uncanny ability to improvise is cut right out of the Romo/Favre cloth. More importantly, Arizona may be the perfect fit for Mayfield.

With Sam Bradford already in line to be the starting quarterback, Mayfield would have time to experience the rigors of the NFL game initially from the sideline. And with a disciplinarian coach like Steve Wilks at the helm, Mayfield’s confident demeanor could mold into an x-factor rather than a distraction.

One thing is clear. There is no questioning that Mayfield has the confidence to succeed at the NFL level. The concern is, scouts said the same thing about Ryan Leaf and Johnny Manziel.

Next: Arizona Cardinals: Defensive line depth important

With the draft just days away, Arizona’s front office is in the midst of deep dive into Mayfield’s collegiate career. Swim at your own risk.