INDIANAPOLIS – The most reliable thing about the lead-up to the draft is a few players having to defend their reputations off the field.
This year, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen have had their attitudes dissected. Mayfield pleaded guilty to public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing last year, then directed a crotch grab at Kansas players during the season. Rosen’s attitude concerns are a bit more vague, as scouts and executives have talked about how he rubs people the wrong way.
Mayfield and Rosen will be vetted in interviews at the NFL scouting combine, but each of them had a teammate defend them on Thursday.
“He’s not who you think he is on the field or off the field,” Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown said of Mayfield.
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’ll say it until the end of my days: I love Josh Rosen and I hope I get to play with him at the next level,” UCLA center Scott Quessenberry said.
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While it’s not exactly a surprise that a college teammate would vouch for his quarterback in a public setting, what Brown and Quessenberry had to say about Mayfield and Rosen is somewhat telling. Each said their teammate isn’t what he’s portrayed to be.
Rosen’s case is interesting. As a passer he is rarely criticized. Everyone seems to be in agreement that he’s more mechanically sound than any other quarterback in the draft and looks like a Week 1 NFL starter. But he’s not seen as a sure No. 1 overall pick, perhaps because of issues about his personality.
Quessenberry said that notion was off base, and it was ridiculous to believe Rosen’s teammates have any issues with him.
“We see him every day, we work with him every day,” Quessenberry said. “We know the type of guy he is, the type of teammate, the type of player he is. The type of grade-A human being he is.”
Quessenberry talked up Rosen’s leadership, talking about a time last season when he pulled the offense together and vocally admonished his teammates to correct some issues. Quessenberry said his message was heeded, and the Bruins averaged 32.5 points per game.
“He’s going to be a great locker room guy and people are going to ride behind him,” Quessenberry said. “He loves the game and learning about the game.”
Mayfield will have to answer questions about his height, measuring at less than 6-foot-1, but also about his character. That seemed to surprise Brown.
“In reality of who he is as a person, I’ve never experienced anything wrong, I’ve never experienced anything bad,” Brown said. “You can ask anyone that knows him: He’s an incredible person.”
Brown also vouched for Mayfield as a leader, which teams obviously want out of their quarterback.
“He’s a very supportive leader, he’s a worker, he’s really, really about his craft,” Brown said. “He’s well respected.
“He’s been everything, I think, the coaches wanted out of a starting quarterback.”
Teams will have to decide for themselves if Mayfield and Rosen can command a locker room and be the face of a franchise. There are a few guys at the scouting combine willing to vouch for them.
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