Scouting Baker Mayfield in Rose Bowl: QB worthy of top-15 pick

PASADENA, Calif. -- Baker Mayfield's college career is over, and I had a chance to scout the Heisman winner in person for his final game. Mayfield's Sooners came up a little short Monday in a back-and-forth double-overtime Rose Bowl loss against Georgia that will go down as a classic.

Coming into the game, I felt like Mayfield was well-positioned as a likely first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, I talked to a scout before the game who went a step further. He told me he'd be shocked if Mayfield isn't a top-15 pick.

Mayfield finished the night 23-of-35 for 287 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT (he also caught a TD pass). While it wasn't his best game, I'm sure of this much: Mayfield is going to be a starting-caliber QB in the NFL, and in a league with a bunch of teams looking for one, he's going to come off the board early.

Here are my takeaways from his performance Monday.

1. It was a tale of two halves for Mayfield. In the first half, you saw all the things you love about him. He showed the accuracy, mobility and energy that's led him to this point.

In the second half, Georgia was able to pressure him and things broke down a bit. He was picked off on an overthrow. He was hesitant on some other throws. The Bulldogs were able to rattle him.

2. One of the things that's a little underreported about Mayfield is he plays behind a great offensive line that for the majority of the season has kept him very clean. In fact, there are a few things that have helped make him great that weren't as helpful as usual in the second half. There were some questionable play calls and protection issues, as well. The security blanket was taken away and he didn't always do the best job of dealing with that adversity, although he did rebound late, bringing the Sooners back from a third-quarter deficit to tie the game and eventually take the lead, although it didn't hold.

3. Arm strength is not an issue for him at all. He has plenty of arm strength, but he needs to pull the trigger a little bit quicker. He wasn't holding the ball and waiting for someone to come open at times. He's not going to have very many clean throwing lanes once he gets to the next level. He has to let the ball go.

4. This game isn't the be all and end all for Mayfield.

I saw Jameis Winston get blown out here in Rose Bowl a few years ago, and he still went No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. I don't think losing this game will have an impact on Mayfield. He's done more than enough to prove himself worthy of a first-round pick.

It wasn't a storybook ending for Mayfield, but there's still plenty to be excited about for him going into the next level.

5. After scouting him on Monday, I'll be surprised if he's not a top-15 pick, and I'll be stunned if he's not a first-round pick.

There will be good and worthy debates about Mayfield leading up to the draft, and some skeptics will point to his lack of size and off-field issues.

I believe he's accurate, a good decision maker and ultra-competitive -- those are three great traits in a league that's light on starting-caliber quarterbacks. Mayfield is worth the risk.

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