Teammates on Baker Mayfield: 'I loved playing with him'

"He's family," one former Oklahoma teammate said of QB Baker Mayfield. "He loves to compete, and he loves football. You can't ask for anything else in a teammate. Incredible guy." Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Baker Mayfield most people know is the Baker Mayfield people see.

They've seen him grab his crotch and wag fingers in defenders' faces. They've seen him throw his body around with reckless abandon.

But what about the Mayfield only a few know?

Who is the former Oklahoma quarterback who could be a top-10 pick in two weeks?

"They don't understand how passionate he plays the game," said former Sooners fullback Dimitri Flowers, a teammate of Mayfield's for four years. "What you see in some of the actions he does on the field, it's raw emotion. And that's why I loved playing with him, because he puts it all on the line. It's just pure passion. None of it's fake."

For the Arizona Cardinals, who have the No. 15 pick in the upcoming draft, debate swirls around whether they'll select a quarterback there or deal up to pick one. Mayfield could end up being available around No. 5 or later, an area the Cardinals could trade into.

Should the Cardinals land Mayfield, they'll be getting a quarterback whom teammates publicly laud as one of the best they've ever had.

"There's two people that come to mind as the best teammates I have ever had. One is Joe Mixon, and the second is Baker Mayfield," former Sooners tight end Mark Andrews said. "[Mayfield] is one of my best friends, but an incredible teammate. Someone that you'll run through a brick wall for, and there aren't many people like that. He's family. He loves to compete, and he loves football. You can't ask for anything else in a teammate. Incredible guy."

The public's perception of Mayfield is different from the one inside Oklahoma's locker room, said Sooners offensive lineman Orlando Brown, who is also considered a likely first-round pick.

Brown said he never experienced "anything wrong or anything bad" with Mayfield.

The perception of Mayfield clouds the public's understanding of him, Brown said.

"He's an incredible person," Brown said. "For me, personally, he's a very supportive leader. He's a worker. He's really about his craft, and he's very well respected."

And that helped Mayfield lead.

"He was the quarterback of the team," Flowers said. "We knew what we had to do, and we followed him."

Flowers called Mayfield a natural leader. Brown said Mayfield has "a very big presence."

Mayfield led by example. He won the Heisman Trophy in December, solidifying his place as an elite player in college football history.

Critiques of Mayfield often focus on his size -- he's 6-foot-1 -- but Flowers has watched Mayfield make up for that in other ways. His playmaking ability was one.

"Baker can make any throw on the field," Flowers said. "And given a quarterback who's 6-foot-6, he can make the same throws as him. I think Baker's the best quarterback in the draft. I've seen him do some spectacular things. He makes some plays you wouldn't believe."

Although his play helped, small things he did on the field also have made a significant contribution to Mayfield's NFL stock.

Mayfield called "all" the offensive plays, Flowers said. Sooners coach Lincoln Riley would signal the plays to Mayfield, who would then call them. Mayfield was also given the freedom to make audibles, check plays and make adjustments. The only thing Mayfield didn't do in college, Flowers recalled, was run a huddle.

Flowers estimated that Riley gave Mayfield "almost 100 percent" flexibility at the line of scrimmage.

"It was always, 'If you checked it, why'd you check it?'" Flowers said of coach-QB interactions. "And if he had a good reason, he's fine. But Baker's Baker. Not a lot of coaches would allow him to do that in college."