The NFL Draft is one of the highest risk/reward scenarios faced by NFL teams. Every year, the teams of the NFL are ranked from worst to best and given eight picks to attempt to improve their teams from the ranks of college football players. Selecting players from the college game is an inexact science, the players are experienced but not in the way a veteran NFL player is. The college game can be very different than professional football, so successful college players don’t always translate into successful NFL players. In this series, we will look at some of the most intriguing potential draft picks for 2018 and build a case for how these players will find their niche in the highly competitive NFL.

Baker Mayfield is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft. A quarterback from the University of Oklahoma, Mayfield has had unquestionable success on the field, culminating in the Sooners' appearance in the 2017 College Football Playoff, a 12-2 season, and Baker winning the 2017 Heisman Trophy. His stats are impressive too, completing 70.5 percent of his passes to lead the nation while throwing 43 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He is seen as a relentless competitor who is able to throw the ball well to any point on the field and has the ability to extend plays with his scrambling ability.

He has an interesting background as well. Although an all-state high school player in Texas, he was not recruited by Division I colleges due to his size, now measuring 6’1” and 215 pounds.

He walked on at Texas Tech and ended up starting seven games there as a freshman. When it became clear that they were looking into other options at quarterback, he transferred to Oklahoma, sat out a year, and then earned the starting job there in 2015. He was successful there all three years that he started for the Sooners, compiling a 34-6 record and a leading them to a Sugar Bowl victory in 2016.

Despite all of his success and his proven ability to win consistently in a big-time college football program, Mayfield has some issues that have given NFL teams reason for concern.

Mayfield arrested

Baker Mayfield was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and fleeing an officer in February 2017.

There are varying accounts of what was going on in Fayetteville, Arkansas on that fateful night, but Mayfield was not directly responsible for the initial disturbance. When questioned by police though, he became belligerent, yelled at the police and then attempted to flee, forcing officers to tackle and arrest him. He was unquestionably intoxicated and this didn’t help him think clearly in this situation. After the arrest, he pleaded guilty and avoided jail time, only having to pay a fine as well as take an alcohol education class.

The arrest was a public relations nightmare for Baker, and he made a public apology on Twitter. “…I wish I could individually apologize to every single person that I have affected.

Just know that I am extremely sorry. I will earn your respect back and prove that I can handle myself in every situation, on and off the field.” Unfortunately, this was not his last public mistake. After beating the Ohio State Buckeyes during an early season matchup in Columbus, OH, he planted an Oklahoma flag at midfield, which was seen as disrespectful to Ohio State. Later in the season, he was caught on camera grabbing his crotch and yelling obscenities at some Kansas Jayhawks after they were unwilling to shake his hand during the pregame coin toss. Both episodes have led to some concern with his character.

Is Mayfield too small for the NFL?

The other concern with Mayfield is his size. He was successful in spite of that, at Oklahoma, but he benefitted from a spread offense which gave him bigger windows to throw through.

Shorter quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Doug Flutie have been able to find success against NFL defenses, but usually when the offense runs a spread. Any NFL team that shows interest in him would want to take that into consideration before drafting him.

Draft time decision

So there is the challenge for NFL teams. Is Baker Mayfield going to be able to overcome his physical and behavioral struggles and be the consistent and successful leader that an NFL team needs him to be? He is a proven winner and an extremely accurate passer from a big-time college football program. Some team will likely take a chance on him, and it will be fun to watch him attempt to overcome his personal issues and make the difficult transition to professional football.