The 2018 Reese’s Senior bowl had plenty of prospects who saw their stock rise, but Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were amongst the talk of prospects who saw their stock rise the most.
Mayfield showed up late due to his mother’s health in Austin, Texas, but immediately began to pick up the nickname “Seabiscuit” from well-respected NFL Network analyst, Mike Mayock.
“Seabiscuit because we are riding that horse the entire week,” host Andrew Siciliano said with Mayock and his counterpart laughing. “And remember Seabiscuit was the undersized horse that could.”
His decision to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl activities was surprising to some, but most NFL scouts were happy to see Mayfield go to the event and compete. Mayfield allegedly inhaled the playbook as soon as he arrived in Mobile, Ala. according to Mayock, and continued to impress scouts in attendance with his accuracy and energy in practice. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report was one of many in attendance, and left the Reese’s Senior Bowl impressed with the Heisman Trophy winner:
“Bakermania was in full effect all week long, and the Oklahoma quarterback rose to the occasion. His mother being hospitalized because of illness caused Mayfield to arrive in Mobile two hours before his first practice, but he was among the first players on the field Tuesday. From that moment on, his energy, accuracy and athleticism were on display. Mayfield had a strong week and confirmed that his playmaking and touch aren’t a product of scheme or Big 12 defenses.”
Mayfield reportedly met with the Jets (sixth pick), Dolphins (11th pick), Bills (21st pick), and Saints (27th pick) during his time at the Senior Bowl, and possibly could’ve met with any of the other teams in attendance. He participated under the Denver Broncos (fifth pick) coaching staff for the North team, who asked the Reese’s Senior Bowl for him to be on their team. Mayfield showed off his physical and mental abilities, but knew that the meetings were the most important. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko, it was the meetings that Mayfield knew where he needed to prove himself.
“I want to prove the type of person I am,” Mayfield told Klemko. “There’s a media portrayal of me and there are the people in the program who know who I am.
“I’m excited for the next few months. I’m gonna give my best because that’s going to put me in the best position moving forward. The stuff I don’t like about the process, I’ll deal with it. I can suck it up for two months. I’ve dealt with worse.”
For Okoronkwo, his week started by being claimed as “winner” of the weigh-in. The former Oklahoma standup defensive end and outside linebacker showed up to Mobile at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds with the second longest arms of anyone there. He will be found no lower than the 10th best edge rusher in most NFL mock drafts, and he impressed many throughout last week.
“His speed is blinding for an outside linebacker, and he has good body control to bend around the tackle,” the Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain wrote. “One scout highlighted Okoronkwo as someone having a good week.”
It did not take long for him to make an impact at practices, as he started to get some buzz as early as day one. He reportedly struggled early due to his inability to go away from his inside spin move, but one Cowboys’ writer pulled the trigger on him anyways.
“The best pass rusher on the North squad is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (DE, Oklahoma),” Bryan Broaddus wrote after the first day of practice. “With these guys it’s all about that first step, and he has it. I believe that the Cowboys will project him to play as a SAM linebacker and nickel rusher. He’s relentless in the way he attacks the pocket and gets to the quarterback…”
Okoronkwo’s week ended with flashing the ability to get the quarterback in the actual game. He recorded two sacks on Saturday, using his patented inside move on one, and showing off his speed to get around the left tackle on the other. The former Oklahoma standout had a very productive career at Oklahoma, but phrases like “he is a force” and “he is a beast” were mentioned by analysts and scouts in Mobile last week. Having the prototypical size will always be an issue, but at least one person in Mobile was a full-believer in Okoronkwo.
“In a league that is becoming more and more pass-heavy by the year, Okoronkwo’s skill set should be coveted by NFL teams, especially those that run a 3-4 defense,” John Owning of FanRag Sports wrote. “Doubters be damned, Okoronkwo can win on the edge in the NFL. The Senior Bowl practices were just his latest opportunity to demonstrate why.”
Okoronkwo reportedly met with the Cowboys (19th overall pick, and picks in the second and third round) and the Chargers (17th overall pick, and picks in the second and third round) during his time at the Reese’ Senior Bowl, and could have met with any other team that was at the event.
Former Oklahoma H-back Dimitri Flowers also participated in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He did not receive the kind of buzz as Mayfield and Okoronkwo did, but NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was impressed with his ability to run routes and catch during a portion of the televised practices. He also made Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s all Reese’s Senior Bowl team.