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Baker Mayfield out to prove he's 'best quarterback' in 2018 draft class

MOBILE, Alabama -- Baker Mayfield doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to the objectives he's set for himself at the practices for the 2018 Senior Bowl.

That's not the Oklahoma star's style. Straight and to the point, the 2017 Heisman trophy winner doesn't pretend to be something he isn't. A former walk-on, twice, during his five-year college career, Mayfield plays and speaks with an edge.

"I want to prove that I can be the best quarterback in this class," Mayfield said Wednesday after his second practice of the week. "I'm ready to step up to the next level no matter what anybody wants to put me as a system quarterback, 6-foot guy, doesn't matter.

"If you can win ball games, you can win ball games."

Mayfield did plenty of that at Oklahoma, where he smashed all sorts of program records while leading the Sooners to multiple College Football Playoff appearances. Compared to the other quarterbacks pegged by draft experts as potential first-round selections, Mayfield stands well above the pack when it comes to experience (three years as a starter), career wins (33) and overall production (12,292 yards, 119 TDs in three seasons at Oklahoma).

In his pursuit to be the top quarterback selected in the 2018 Draft -- where the Browns hold the first and fourth overall picks -- Mayfield still has work to do. For the next few months, he'll be answering questions about his height (6-foot), which would put him in the minority of starting NFL quarterbacks, how he'll adapt to NFL-style offenses after years of running Oklahoma's spread attack and the fiery personality that provides the backbone of his well-regarded leadership style.

"When it comes down to it. they want to see what type of guy I am around these people," Mayfield said. "I have three years of tape for games. They want to see the same energy, the same leader that's out there every day and leading these guys, that I'm able to learn an offense and control it and be comfortable and be the genuine authentic guy I always am."

Browns general manager John Dorsey was in attendance for a game at Kansas this past season that showed some of Mayfield's best work (20-of-30, 257 yards, 3 TDs in a rout) and the heart-on-sleeve competitive juices that made him such a memorable college player. Mayfield engaged in plenty of trash talk throughout the game after Kansas players refused to shake his hand at the opening coin toss. He was briefly benched the following week for crossing the line with some of his behavior, which he later apologized for, against the Jayhawks.

Dorsey's memory of the game centers on how Mayfield performed between the lines, something he respects seeing this week when Mayfield could have understandably passed on the Senior Bowl.

"He made the fans at Kansas upset, I can tell you that," Dorsey said. "He's the Heisman Trophy winner, I think that speaks for itself. He's had a wonderful season, kind of where he came from and how he's gotten to where he is today, I think it's tribute to him and the Oklahoma Sooner organization and the coaching staff there, so it should be fun to watch him participate here this week."

It remains to be seen if Mayfield, who arrived to Mobile a day later than most prospects because his mother is dealing with an illness, will participate in Saturday's game. That decision is expected Thursday, when he concludes his third of three practices alongside fellow top quarterback prospect Josh Allen and the rest of the North team.

Mayfield's eyes are on the future, and he's not veering from the approach that drove him to so much success in the past.

"Nothing was given to me. I had to go earn it," Mayfield said. "Starting from the lowest part of the totem pole. That's how you start as a rookie. You've got to go earn everything. You've got guys that are veterans. You've got grown men that have been doing it a long time. For me I've got to treat it the same way."

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