ARIZONA CARDINALS

Examining Baker Mayfield’s chances of being drafted by Cardinals

Feb 9, 2018, 8:52 AM | Updated: 2:44 pm
North Squad quarterback Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (6) passes during the North teams practice for S...
North Squad quarterback Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (6) passes during the North teams practice for Saturday's Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile, Ala.,Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

One of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class is Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The 2017 Heisman winner is a bonafide winner despite less-than-ideal physical traits and a circuitous path to success.

Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech in 2013 and led the Red Raiders to a 5-3 mark in eight starts before transferring to Oklahoma, where he walked on again.

In three years with the Sooners, the 6-footer put up big time numbers, throwing for 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns while leading OU to a 34-6 record and an appearance in the 2017 College Football Playoff.

Teams love his competitiveness, but some may be turned off by a list of antics that have made headlines: a public intoxication arrest in February of 2017, a couple of on-field conduct incidents the same year against Ohio State and Kansas and a video that surfaced of Mayfield hitting a member of TCU’s team in the head with a pregame warmup throw seemingly on purpose.

Still Mayfield will likely be drafted in the first round in April, which means the Arizona Cardinals, owners of the 15th overall pick, could be in play for his services.

SI.com’s Robert Klemko published an article listing the 10 most probable landing spots for Mayfield based on a combination of conversations with executives, the team’s draft position, draft capital and a front office’s history in dealing picks.

Klemko has Arizona as the third-most likely spot for the Oklahoma signal caller, behind the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, and says the key player in the possibility is new Arizona offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Is this the year general manager Steve Keim finally drafts a quarterback? In five seasons at the helm of the Cardinals, Keim has drafted one passer—Logan Thomas, fourth round in 2014—despite Carson Palmer turning 34 during Keim’s first season. This draft will be tenure-defining for Keim now that Palmer is retired. The Cardinals don’t exactly have the cap space to make a big splash for someone like Cousins (though that could change if Larry Fitzgerald calls it a career). Of all the offensive coordinators who will have a hand in the evaluation and drafting of quarterbacks in the first round, Mike McCoy figures to have the most sway, with Keim’s lack of experience drafting the position and new head coach Steve Wilks coming from a defensive background. McCoy’s best years came while working with Philip Rivers, a swaggering, boisterous gunslinger who loves talking trash. Remind you of anyone?

The most interesting factor in the Cardinals’ chances of landing Mayfield is the team’s position in the first round. The 15th overall pick isn’t exactly a great spot to be picking a quarterback, based on recent history.

Since 2000, 48 different quarterbacks have been first-round picks. Over 58 percent (28) of them have been picked in the top ten, with many of those selected after a team traded up to get a specific QB.

Almost 23 percent of those picks have come in the lower-third of the round (picks 21-32). From picks 11 to 20, only nine passers have been picked in the last 18 drafts — and only three of those (Ben Roethlisberger, Deshaun Watson and Joe Flacco) have had any success in the NFL.

There’s been a tendency for the stock of first-round quarterbacks to rise as the draft draws nearer, meaning 15th overall is sort of an unwritten “no man’s land” for teams seeking one.

The stark reality for Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and his staff appears to be they’ll need to move up into the top ten to secure Mayfield’s services if they’re that interested. He’ll likely be gone if Arizona stands pat.

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Examining Baker Mayfield’s chances of being drafted by Cardinals