INDIANAPOLIS - To say that Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield showed up at the NFL scouting combine with a chip on his shoulder would be inaccurate.
Whatever that was alongside Mayfield's neck was more like the Roman Coliseum.
Some of the prospects at the combine view their meetings with the media as an opportunity to tell their story, state their case and go out of their way to be as pleasant, cooperative and effusive as possible.
Others are just naturally shy or introverted and appear uncomfortable and brief in their answers.
Some of the cocky or arrogant prospects come in thinking they’re smarter than everyone else and come off as a little too sure of themselves, even a bit smarmy.
It is neither possible nor fair to judge a kid on 15 minutes in front of a bunch of strangers. But Mayfield, whom I believe is the best football player among the quarterback prospects in this draft, was just different.
The best way I can describe it is that he came across as a mashup of focused, determined, exhausted and even a touch angry.
At the end of the day these media sessions are not critical to where these kids get drafted, but everything they do here is weighed and evaluated, and Mayfield appeared less than thrilled that he was there at all.
Asked how he’d feel if he was the first pick of the Browns, Mayfield replied, “I mean, it’d be a chance to play football, I’d love that but first things first.
“They need a winner, and I think if anybody’s going to turn that franchise around, it’d be me.”
Does he think he’s the best quarterback in this draft? “Absolutely. If you don’t have that mindset, then something is wrong. Everybody here is probably thinking the same thing.”
Mayfield is probably right, and I don’t have any problem with him saying that, but sometimes in these situations nuance is everything, and with Mayfield it just felt like he was challenging the questioner rather than trying to answer the question.
Asked how he responds when he’s asked about his height – he measures just over 6-foot-0 – he was almost dismissive.
“It doesn’t matter. You see guys like Tyrod Taylor, Brees, Russell Wilson — they’ve proven that it doesn’t matter.
“If you don’t want to say anything else, I’ve got three years of tape you can watch. I’ve got that, and height didn’t matter at that point.
“I think I have less batted balls at the line of scrimmage than all the other guys, and I’m pretty sure I’m shorter than them, too, so it doesn’t matter.”
The problem with that answer is height’s not a disqualifier, but it clearly does matter.
It’s one of the reasons the Bills are likely to give up on Taylor this spring and Brees and Wilson have systems specifically designed to overcome their vertical challenges.
Mayfield did seem quite self-aware saying, “What you see is what you get. I’ve always been brutally honest, and some people don’t like that because it’s rare nowadays, but it’s, you know, I go into these meetings and I’m just myself and I want to get drafted by a team that knows exactly what they’re getting.”
Mayfield even offered a strangely negative view of teams' priorities at the combine, saying, “This whole process is about finding out what’s wrong with you. You know it’s about pointing out flaws and seeing if they can look past them, seeing if they can work with them so any question they ask is fair game.”
Asked if he could be as cocky as he seems in his first NFL locker room, Mayfield said, “I don’t think I’m cocky. It’s not cocky, it’s just confident.”
There’s nothing wrong with that either, and I love watching this kid play football, but here’s the problem: It was actually a bit uncomfortable watching Mayfield state his case for why a team should want him, and there was nothing pleasant about that at all.