While NFL scouts spend an enormous amount of time and resources studying the physical and cognitive traits of prospective players in preparation for the draft each year, exactly what goes into evaluating the ‘intangible’ aspects of their game? By definition the term ‘intangible’ implies that a specific variable being studied is immeasurable by standard techniques.
For example, how does one measure player motivation to win?
First of all, how does one even define motivation? According to Merriam-Webster’s learner’s dictionary online, motivation is defined as a force or influence that causes someone to do something. What triggers motivation in one person may be completely different than what motivates someone else.
A player may be motivated by many factors; money, fame, ego, grief, death/loss, love, or even being told they would never ‘make it’. Some players know specifically what motivates them when asked. Others give responses they think interviewers want to hear.
Just for giggles in the weeks ahead I’m going to take a look at some important ‘intangible’ qualities of the top-tier quarterback class for the 2018 NFL Draft. Limited by what I can discern from a considerable distance, there are still attributes that tend to shine through even a television interview or article that are worthy of consideration.
Let’s start with who I think might be the most intriguing personality of this year’s quarterback class, Baker Mayfield.
After watching interviews with those who are considered the top six quarterbacks (Darnold, Rosen, Allen, Mayfield, Jackson, Rudolph), Mayfield’s personality stands out as unique in some ways I find personally intriguing for a future franchise quarterback.
Let’s look under the hood and see why Mayfield is so interesting.
Ben Kercheval recently posted a revealing article on the cbsports.com website about Baker Mayfield and it was a treasure trove of data about what motivates him.
The bravado that borders on cockiness isn’t necessarily a character he plays. That would imply he’s acting, and as any professional actor will tell you, that’s a skill defined by lying.
What you see is simply Baker Mayfield. All of those things exist in the same person.
“The other part, the flamboyance, that’s also what makes Baker … Baker,” explained Gina. “You sort of have to be like that at that level.”
You could reasonably say that character trait has been held against Mayfield at times. A kid from the well-to-do part of town who has no problem making himself the center of attention isn’t typically high on everyone’s list of people for whom to cheer.
That endless reservoir of resentment — even hate — has become the source of Mayfield’s motivation.
Stop. Right. There.
Baker Mayfield is motivated by resentment? Hate?
Or… is Mayfield a guy who is motivated by a sense of being misjudged by others? Perhaps his resentment is based more around feelings of outrage at being judged by people who don’t know him.
The path for those born with exceptional gifts is littered with land mines of envy, resentment and a desire to misrepresent the target’s authenticity. When so much comes easily for those born with an alpha personality the bullseye is often placed upon them early in life.
When you spend the better part of your developmental years having your accomplishments belittled because “it comes so easy for you”, it can cause a chip on your shoulder to become boulder sized by the time you reach adulthood. Instead of appreciating the hard work necessary for even those loaded with “IT”, resentment builds because accomplishments are brushed off as a matter of luck instead of hard work.
For Baker Mayfield, the resentment must only intensify as you strive for a goal you know is within reach only to be told your not tall enough. So not only has your prior success been marginalized, your very physical being becomes a point of contention. That’s enough to fire up the tamest of souls.
The fire burning inside Baker Mayfield is almost palpable when you listen to him talk. This is a young man with a great passion. He also has a mind like an elephant and doesn’t forget comments made by his detractors. Check out this ESPN interview with Mayfield addressing some of the “off the field concerns” attributed to him by others.
There’s a big difference between the type of flamboyance displayed by someone like Giants (for now) wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and a person like Baker Mayfield. ‘OBJ’ is all about self-promotion and his antics usually involve focusing on his own performance. Mayfield’s antics are about team domination and he spares no one’s feelings in the process.
The bottom line regarding Mayfield is he might be like Drew Brees in terms of size, but he’s also got the same drive to prove everyone wrong about his lack of height. As others have pointed out, he also has a gun-slinging mentality like another quarterback we’ve come to know and love in Western New York, Jim Kelly. Additionally, he appears to also have a playful side that’s rather ‘Favresque’ at times.
When you look at discussions around Josh Allen, for example, it’s hard to get past his physical skill set. With Baker Mayfield, his skill set often takes a back seat to the magnificent intangible qualities he also possesses. Will it be enough for Baker to become a top-five pick in next month’s draft?
Like the endless debate about nature vs. nurture and overall development as a human being, tangibles vs. intangibles will always provide the same sort of healthy debate about which quality is more important for identifying a potentially successful quarterback in the NFL . It will be interesting to see where teams place their priorities with this diverse group of young men in this year’s draft.
Editor’s babble: Thanks for reading and commenting on our blog. We appreciate your feedback. If you can stand more babble, I’m on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.