QB prospects ready to answer personality questions

Posted Mar 3, 2018

There are some very different quarterback personalities in this year's draft class, which is why prospects like Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen are eager to get in front of NFL clubs and get personal.

The flaws of each and every one of the quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL draft will be scrutinized to the hilt from now until all 32 teams set their final draft board. This weekend during formal interviews with quarterbacks they’ll also try to gauge the kind of leader they’ll be getting. Two particular quarterback prospects whose personalities look to be at opposite ends of the spectrum are Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. But is the general perception of the two signal callers accurate?

Most outside observers see Baker Mayfield as a fiery leader who wears his emotions on his sleeve. It’s not hard to witness how into a game the Oklahoma quarterback is when he turns in a big play or finishes a scoring drive. He’s also not afraid to remind you.

“The way I’m able to get my guys around me to play,” Mayfield said in referencing one of his strengths as a quarterback. “Not just the offensive players around me, the 10 guys, but the defensive guys, the special teams. The energy I bring, the passion I bring, it’s infectious. You can ask anybody on that Oklahoma staff, that’s what I bring to the table and it helps out.”

There’s little debate that Mayfield has an edge to him. Whether it’s because for most of his playing career he was seen as undersized, or because he had to overcome being a walk-on at Texas Tech and then transferred to Oklahoma and going through a coaching change, there’s a competitive fire in him that appeals to coaches and fans alike.

There are some however, who misinterpret it as cockiness.

“I don’t think I’m cocky,” he said. “It’s not cocky, it's just confident. I’m always trying to improve. I’ve never once said that I’ve made it. I’ve always been one to be the first one to say that this was my mistake or I need to get better and that’s how I’m always going to handle it.”

Mayfield understands he can’t make everyone happy, and he realizes that some of his relatively minor off the field transgressions will need to be addressed in formal interviews with NFL clubs. But he intends to take a straightforward approach.

“I’m up front and honest and tell people exactly what I’m about. I think that’s the most important thing. 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,” Mayfield said. “I go into these meetings and I’m just myself. I want to get drafted to a team that knows exactly what they’re getting.”

While Mayfield’s passion for the game is never questioned, the situation is much different for UCLA quarterback prospect Josh Rosen. He’s perceived by some to be aloof and lacking a love for the game.

“We all work our butt off. If we didn’t like football, no matter how talented we are, we wouldn’t be in the position that we all are in here this week,” said Rosen. “I love football with all of my heart and soul. If I didn’t I just don’t think I would’ve made through the grind of college.

“That’s why I’m excited to be here. If teams still questioned my love for the game after this week when they got a chance to know me, then it would bother me a little bit. But I think that coaches can really see what I care about.”

Rosen admitted to the media that he’s not a ‘rah-rah guy.’ He thinks if he tried to be his teammates would see right through him. Instead Rosen builds relationships with teammates first, and from that determines how to lead and push teammates to be their best.

“I think leadership is a very personal thing where there aren’t any short cuts,” he said. “It takes time and you have to build relationships and you have to treat each individual, individually. Some guys respond to a kick in the butt a little better. Some guys respond to encouragement or inspiration. Some guys get down on themselves so you kind of have to help them up a little bit. You have to lead in your own individual way.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. So anything that I can do as a leader to make the team better I’m going to do, and I’m going to do it on a person-by-person basis because that’s where it starts with the relationships.”

That’s the kind of insight NFL clubs are trying to find out about these quarterback prospects, and the Bills are no exception.

“For the most part what we’re looking for is the mental end of things,” said head coach Sean McDermott of the 15-minute formal interviews. “Not maybe the IQ score, but the football acumen so we’re able to watch film with these young men in a formal setting. Watch how they come in, their presence, and observe how they describe what they’re doing on the field to see how quickly in some ways they would transition to our game.”

“You want people who fit our culture,” said GM Brandon Beane. “Smart, tough, competitive, obviously have the skill set, but have the intangibles. Work hard, leadership is so important. The intangibles of the quarterback position are magnified. Whether they’re elite or not, you’ve seen it with guys in this league who have all the physical talent, but don’t have all the other things to go along with it. If they don’t, generally their teams don’t make it.”

And sometimes even if a quarterback’s leadership and personality earn passing grades from an NFL club, they still might not view them as an ideal fit for their team and the chemistry in their locker room. But the prospects seem to have a good grasp of that dynamic.

“I think they have to test my capabilities on the board and make sure I know what I’m doing ‘X’s and ‘O’s wise, get a feel for my personality,” Rosen said. “Maybe if they think I’m a good player, but not a good fit for their personality profile, you can respect that.

“A team is evaluating you not just how good you are on a scale of one to 10, but how good a fit you are for their team. So I’m just here to present who I am as a person and a player. And do what I can to let them make the best decision on whether I would be the right guy to lead their franchise.”