NFL Scouting Combine: Musings, observations and the occasional insight as the quarterbacks took center stage Friday at the NFL’s Scouting Combine…. * Quick impressions of some of the top-level quarterback prospects based on their performances from the podium in front of the media:
Baker Mayfield believes in himself as much as any player I can ever remember coming through Indianapolis for this annual NFL job interview, but I think his swagger works well for him. He doesn’t come across as cocky as much as utterly convinced. That he’s good. That he’s ready. And that he has what it takes to lead an NFL team at its most high-profile position.
NFL Scouting Combine 2018 Live Stream
“If any one is going to turn around the Cleveland Browns, it’s going to be me,’’ the Oklahoma quarterback said when asked about the prospect of being the next in a long line of failed Browns quarterbacks.
And you know what? That’s exactly the right answer for facing down the most cursed position in the NFL. Whenever things finally do turn around in Cleveland, it’s going to take a quarterback who believes he’s a miracle worker. Because thinking the job may be too big for you is absolutely halfway to failure as a Browns QB.
Mayfield called his personality and work ethic “infectious,’’ said he wouldn’t “settle for a backup job’’ even as a rookie (are you listening No. 2 Giants?), declared “height doesn’t matter’’ for a passer, and proclaimed himself “the most accurate quarterback in this draft, by far.’’
He also admitted he “has always been brutally honest,’’ as if that needed saying. “Some people don’t like that because it’s rare nowadays, but I just go into these meetings and I’m just myself.’’
Mayfield has a stone-cold conviction about himself, and I think there’s going to be more than one team that falls head over heels in love with his “it factor’’ and alpha-male personality, as well as the proven and productive game he put on tape in college. With top-six teams like the Browns, Giants, Broncos and Jets all needing quarterbacks, and looking to shake off the stigma of losing seasons, its hard to imagine one of them isn’t going to let the confident guy in the bandana be the one to lead them into the future.
— The best thing I heard from UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is his well-defined self-awareness. He admitted he “kind of’’ needs to convince NFL team decision-makers here that he loves football, which goes right to the heart of questions about his dedication and commitment level to the game. Does he want it enough? Does he need it enough?
“I love football with all my heart and soul,’’ Rosen said. “And if I didn’t, I just don’t think I’d be able to have made it through the grind of college. Football is an unbelievable team sport, and that’s what so cool about it. I’m not playing exclusively for my own passions, I’m playing for all of my teammates.’’
Rosen said his top goal at the combine is for teams to come away with an accurate perception of the real him, not the image they may have of him based on what they’ve heard, read or seen. In his 15-minute session with reporters, he came across as convincing, genuine and very aware that he has some work to do that extends beyond defending his game tape.
“I’m not going to present a fake image of myself,” Rosen said. “I think you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic. You have to show that you’ve learned and grown over the years. You have to own your mistakes. I think that’s what I’m trying to show.
“I’m trying to show who I really am, not who I’m trying to be, because I don’t want them to draft someone they think they’re getting and then not to get that guy. I think that’s also what your teammates want. Your teammates don’t want a fake shell of yourself. Teammates want you to be you every single day, so that you’re that reliable rock they can count on.”
On the field, Rosen said his strength is his quick decision-making and his ability to get through his progressions decisively. Unlike Mayfield, he said he’s willing to be a backup for whichever team drafts him, if that’s what it takes “to help the team win.’’
— Well played, Lamar Jackson. Well played. The former Heisman winner from Louisville struck just the right playful tone when bombarded with questions about whether teams have asked him to work out at both receiver and quarterback this weekend, as NFL Network reported Friday. Jackson essentially laughed off the notion, giving the idea of a position switch the respect it deserves at this point.