Baker Mayfield is undoubtedly the most popular player at the Senior Bowl.
Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks who are expected to go within the top-10 don’t show up to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., every winter – Mayfield is the exception. Though that’s nothing new for the Oklahoma Sooners star who climbed his way up the charts to take home the Heisman in 2017. A one-time walk-on is only a few months away from achieving the dream and being handed the keys to an NFL offense as a team’s franchise quarterback.
Mayfield is so popular, even the Chicago Bears made it a priority to carve out some time for one of the draft’s top quarterbacks (despite the presence of Mitch Trubisky). Robert Klemko of SI.com’s The MMQB details the encounter between Mayfield and a Bears scout who approached him in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, and it can be described only as … awkward.
Mayfield comes off as dismissive when the scout asks for 15 minutes of his time. And then, it hit him.
“You guys just drafted Mitchell Trubisky,” Mayfield said. “So what do you want with me?”
To be fair, Mayfield makes an astute observation. Why the Bears would want to spend time with a quarterback projected to go as high as him in the draft doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Dig a little deeper and things start to make sense.
The Bears could simply be doing their homework and getting background on a player. Scouting reports and interviews don’t simply go away once the draft is over. A team doing its due diligence on a player as talented as Mayfield at the most important position in the game should be common place, especially a team like the Bears that hasn’t gotten much right regarding the quarterback position over the course of time.
Chicago could also be collecting information for other teams to compare notes. How a player interacts with one team might not be how he does with another.
And then there’s a scenario that isn’t all that far-fetched.
Back when we were tracking the Bears’ draft pick, the team was almost in a perfect spot to cash in on their draft position. And despite some moving and shaking that has happened since, GM Ryan Pace could still find himself in the driver’s seat.
Washington (13th pick), Arizona (15th), and Buffalo (21st, 22nd) represent three teams who could be in the market to draft a quarterback in April. If one of the top quarterbacks (Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen) is still on the board when the Bears pick eighth, the Bears could conceivably trade down, add picks, and still land the type of impact player they desire by dealing with a team that was as quarterback thirsty as they were a year ago at this time.
Another likely scenario features as many as four quarterbacks going with in the first seven picks. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see the Browns (1st), Giants (2nd), Broncos (5th), and Jets (6th) all take quarterbacks before the Bears jump on the clock. In that situation, the Bears would be in a place where they could draft a top-5 non-quarterback talent. And with their quarterback of the future already being in the fold and top-flight talent possibly still being on the board, the Bears might not want to move down.
There are 90 days before the NFL Draft, but business is already starting to pick up at the Senior Bowl.