Sean McVay spotted reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield walking down the aisle of his flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on Tuesday and called him over.
Mayfield took the middle seat, just to sit next to the Los Angeles Rams' second-year head coach, and got a little bit of advice before interviewing with and working out for an assortment of NFL teams at this year's scouting combine.
"We just talked a little bit," McVay recalled in a phone conversation on Wednesday morning. "I wanted to be careful. I know he's going to be talking all week, and this is kind of an exhausting process both physically and mentally. But just kind of let him know, 'Just be yourself, enjoy it, be honest and up front,' like he would regardless of whether I said that."
Mayfield was one of the top quarterbacks in college football over the past three years with the Oklahoma Sooners, completing 69.8 percent of his passes, averaging 10.6 yards per attempt and throwing 119 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. Entering the draft, there are concerns about Mayfield's height -- he's listed at 6-foot-1, but may be an inch or two shorter -- and also questions about his character.
But he has the talent to be selected in the top half of the first round, despite being part of a quarterback-heavy draft.
"You can see he understands football; he's put good stuff on tape for the last handful of years," McVay said. "His resume speaks for itself."
McVay and Mayfield met during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis earlier this month. McVay, who was flying Southwest, which allows passengers to select their seats when they board, got the window with an earlier boarding group. He called Mayfield over because he said he preferred to sit with someone he knew, but he was conscious of giving him his space during the four-hour flight.
McVay called Mayfield "an impressive guy, very likeable. You see why his teammates thought the way they do about him."