First of all, let me say I love the NFL Draft! It’s akin to having Christmas in April! You never know what new talent will be added to your favorite team. They could draft another fast, shiny toy for Ben Roethlisberger to throw to, or maybe it will be a big strong behemoth needed to prevent the defense from being plowed through by the opposition. Nobody really knows how the chips will fall, and which players will still be available when the Steelers turn to pick comes around, but it sure is fun to speculate.
The draft is one of the things that helps us get through a long off-season without football. We watch the combine with bated breath, all the while imagining how each participant could improve the team on the field. However, each new addition’s impact will also be felt inside the locker room, and in the community.
After the NFL Scouting Combine, a player’s draft status is given after seemingly every imaginable bit of personal information and measurables are obtained about them. This in-depth process causes the status of many players to rise, or fall, in the weeks leading up to the draft and can result in some big surprises on draft night. Some teams will completely remove a player from their draft board over health concerns, or run-ins with law enforcement.
Every year, there seems to be at least one player with a first-round grade that ends up being drafted much later than expected due to off-the-field baggage, and I always fear they’ll fall all the way to whenever the Steelers pick. I worry each year because the Steelers adhere to the “best player available” principle. So what if the player seems too good to pass up? Therefore, I hope some players are not even on the Steelers’ radar, so to speak.
Last year that player for me was RB Joe Mixon from Oklahoma. I had watched him play multiple times and knew he was pretty good, but once that video surfaced of him knocking out a young lady, I didn’t want him anywhere near my favorite team. I know we aren’t talking about choir boys here, and no one’s perfect, but there are certain lines which shouldn’t be crossed. He obviously didn’t want to discuss the incident prior to the draft, but finally conceded to a half-hearted apology when he realized it was inevitable. Mixon eventually apologized, but he definitely did not seem like a Steelers-type player.
Fittingly, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ironically, this year, that player is also from Oklahoma, QB Baker Mayfield. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s not to like? On the field, the kid is nothing but a winner! He even won the Heisman for Pete’s sake. He appears to be an enthusiastic team leader whose teammates rally behind him. He plays with the proverbial chip on his shoulder, after being under-recruited out of high school and having to walk on at Texas Tech. He proceeded to win the starting job there before transferring to OU where he ended his college career a Heisman Trophy winner and All American.”
Even after all that, there will be some who still question his long term potential due to his lack of height, and his playing style. He has vowed to prove all the doubters wrong and that he will play anywhere, even Cleveland.
You kind of have to admire that, I guess.
So what is it about him that concerns me? I really can’t put my finger on it just yet. I just don’t like the guy, I guess. Maybe he just seems too cocky to me, a little too entitled for my taste. Maybe it was him pleading not guilty to his well publicized arrest last year even though the whole thing was recorded by a officer’s body cam. Then he appeared to have a callous attitude toward the whole incident, much like Mixon the year prior.
Mayfield might turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread, but he just doesn’t feel like a Steelers-type player to me. He does remind me of a Patriots-type player for some reason. Who knows, he might be the second coming of Tom Brady? But even if I knew he was, I’d still want the Steelers to pass on him. Winning isn’t everything, or at least not the only thing to me. How you win and how you represent your team, your community, and your fan base all matter. If you don’t feel that way, don’t worry, it’s okay. You can always be a Bengals or a Patriots fan!