Jackson, Mayfield Face Scrutiny on NFL Future
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson braced themselves for a long-anticipated flurry of questions at the NFL’s annual scouting combine.
Even practice might not have prepared them for Friday.
The two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks found themselves repeatedly talking about their biggest perceived weaknesses — Mayfield’s size and brash personality and Jackson’s future at quarterback. All they need to do now is convince pro scouts they’re worthy of being first-round draft picks in April.
“I’m the most accurate quarterback in this draft for sure,” said Mayfield, last year’s runaway Heisman winner. “I’m ready to be a franchise guy.”
Perhaps he will be the guy who turns around a struggling franchise, regardless of venue.
After all, Mayfield does possess the gaudy numbers, a multitude of honors and the winning resume pro teams covet in a starting quarterback. Mayfield went 33-6 as Oklahoma’s starter.
What he lacks in size, standing a smidge over 6 feet, Mayfield makes up with a bold confidence and brash personality that ranks second to none.
The combination has occasionally led the blurring of lines between excitable celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Those antics — the planting of the flag at Ohio State, the crotch-grabbing gesture at Kansas and the image of him running onto the field against Texas Tech, his former school, with a T-shirt reading “traitor” — have some NFL executives wondering how it would resonate in a locker room full of grown men.
Mayfield insists, though, he can change his actions.
“I’m up front and honest, brutally honest,” he said. “Some people don’t like that because it’s rare these days.”
But it’s not just the on-the-field incidents that worry some.
Mayfield also was involved an embarrassing run-in with law enforcement officers in Arkansas last offseason and endured the humiliation of being stripped of his captain’s title before his last home game at Oklahoma.
Teammates, however, have never wavered in their support.
“It’s just really a perception,” left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “He’s not the guy you think he is. He’s a captain. He’s a leader. He’s very focused, and he’s going to bring everyone together.”
Jackson finds himself in a vastly different situation.
Despite having equally impressive stats, his own Heisman trophy and playing in an efficient spread offense, the questions about Jackson and former Ohio State star J.T. Barrett are all about fit.
Both were dangerous throwing and running in college, and history suggests the dual-threat quarterbacks either don’t stick around long or stay healthy. Robert Griffin III and Tim Tebow are recent examples, which might explain reports suggesting Jackson will also work out with the receivers on Saturday.
Jackson repeatedly denied it.
“I thought I did a good job at quarterback (at Louisville). I did,” he said. I’m here at the combine to show my ability. It (the talk) is just more motivation and I’m going to show them how good I am.”
While Jackson has the numbers to prove his value at quarterback, Barrett’s numbers suggest something else.
The only three-time captain in Ohio State history played on two Big Ten title teams, a national champion and was chosen the conference quarterback of the year three times. But his inconsistency frustrated fans and have scouts asking questions about his accuracy — and whether he’s capable of being an NFL quarterback.
“I’m here to show 32 teams why they should draft me, and I think I can do that,” Barrett said.
Mayfield has the most to gain or lose here.
If he can sell teams on his personality and that he can play more in the mold of other short quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, Mayfield’s stock could soar and might push him into the top five or 10. If not, Mayfield could have a longer wait on draft day.
But nobody here believes more strongly in Mayfield than the Oklahoma quarterback. All you have to do is ask.
“I think if anyone is going to turn that franchise around, it would be me,” Mayfield said when asked about going to the Cleveland Browns, who have No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in April.
As for the height question, Mayfield cited some success stories before finishing: “If you want to see anything else, I’ve got three years of tape to prove it.”
AP source: Dolphins agree to acquire Rams’ Robert Quinn
MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins can’t wait to improve their pass rush.
Miami agreed to acquire Los Angeles Rams edge rusher Robert Quinn for a mid-round draft pick, a person familiar with the deal said Friday. The person confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because under NFL rules, no 2018 trades can be completed until March 14.
Quinn has 62¢ career sacks, including 8¢ last year, when he started 14 games. He spent his first six NFL seasons with the Rams at end but played outside linebacker last season.
Quinn is expected to bolster a Dolphins pass rush that was disappointing in 2017. They had 30 sacks, tied for sixth fewest, and ranked fifth worst in opposing passer rating, which helped explain their 6-10 record.
Miami’s other defensive ends include 36-year-old Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and former first-round draft pick Charles Harris.
Quinn, the 14th pick of the 2011 draft, made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. He struggled with injuries in 2015, eventually having season-ending back surgery, and a concussion limited him to nine games in 2016.
He’s due a base salary of $10 million this year and is under contract through 2019.