. Baker Mayfield and drama appear to be inseparable these days. The Heisman Trophy quarterback is always making headlines for one reason or another.
Much like another former Heisman Trophy winner – Texas A&M great Johnny Manziel.
The Mayfield and Manziel comparisons have been prominent and haven’t gone away this week at the Senior Bowl.
Mayfield defended himself earlier in the week, saying the “bad boy” image is false, and his teammates and college coaches echoed similar sentiments Thursday.
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“I don’t know where that narrative came from, you know?” Oklahoma defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. “Baker is a great guy. He does great things in the community. He’s a great leader. He’s a great competitor. He’s a great teammate.
“All that stuff about Johnny Manziel? That’s all fabricated. He’s a great guy. I love him. Hardest working guy on the team for sure.”
Manziel had a sensational college career, too, winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy. The Cleveland Browns drafted him 22nd overall in 2014, but he flamed out after just two seasons with a number of off-field issues.
Manziel played in just 15 games in his brief career. He started eight games, going 2-6 in those contests.
Mayfield is coming off a sensational senior season in which he led the Sooners to the college football’s playoffs and earned Heisman honors. He finished the season throwing for 4,627 yards on 285-of-404 passing (70.5 completion percentage) with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He’s projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, although teams are worried about his size (6-feet 3/8 inches and 216 pounds) and possible off-field distractions. The draft is April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
But Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley downplayed any concerns when it comes to his quarterback.
“I think he can do anything he wants,” said Riley, who attended Thursday’s practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. “It’s a fit league. He’s going to have to get in a system where people believe in him and let him be him.
“He’s a great player, very cerebral player and loved coaching him. Whoever gets to coach him next is going to love him too.”
Riley said Mayfield has the necessary intangibles to success as every other great quarterback in the league.
“All the time. All the time. It’s not a show for you guys or when there are cameras there,” Riley said. “It’s all the time. That’s him.”