The winner of the first "Choose your scouting report" is Taylor Mays. Mays is an extremely atheltically gifted safety that many scouts have compared to Sean Taylor. Coming into 2010, Mays was thought to be neck and neck with Tennessee safety Eric Berry for the top safety spot on draft boards. However, just like much of USC's team, Mays struggled mightily at times.
Make no mistake, Taylor Mays is an absolute physical freak. He reportedly ran a 4.25 40 yard dash during USC's spring practices. At 6'4, 230 lbs, he is built more like a linebacker than a safety and it translates into his hitting game. When he hits people, he drives through and delievers punishing hits that will remind Jaguar fans of Donovan Darius. Mays' run support is second to none in the draft, including Eric Berry. He would be a 4th linebacker when lining him up in the box.
He has excellent closing speed that let's him come up to delivery the above mentioned big hits. He spent the majority of his time in college playing the two deep zone, so having that closing speed was critical. He was used for an an intimidator than play maker in college, which partially explains his lack of "highlight" plays. In addition, Mays never missed a game as the starting safety.
However, Mays has his share of weaknesses. Remember those big hits thanks to his closing speed I mentioned earlier? That's a crapshoot because of he consistently took bad angles. In addition, when he was there to make the tackle, he often was more interested in creating a big hit than making a sound tackle, cause some more garbage yards for the opposition.
His coverage skills are, well, bad. There was a reason Mays played as deep as he often did in college. At least as a rookie, the extent of Mays' coverage ability will be helping corners over the top. Even in college, he had issues trying to cover wide outs one on one. He's not the ball hawk you would want to see out of an elite safety prospect. He has been accused of just getting by on his athletic talent rather than any real football skill.
Had Mays come out last year, he would've been a top 10 pick. However, staying for his senior year caused his game to be nitpicked to death. Coupled with a lackluster senior year and we have our latest candidate for the Brian Brohm award.
Video Killed the Scouting Report
Taylor Mays: By The Numbers
|At A Glance|
Position 1: Strong Safety
Position 2: 3-4 OLB
|Class: Senior||Age: 22|
Projected Round: Top 15
1st Team All American: 2007, 2008, 2009
2nd Team All American: 2006
2008 Thorpe Award Finalist
According to the Experts
The 6-foot-3 safety is one of the best pure athletes in the draft. Solid built, with raw power, he possesses incredible range and even better coverage awareness. He has blazing speed and moves well enough on the back end to make plays on the ball. Mays possesses a good feel for the game and a knack for the football. He is well respected and a natural leader on the field.
On the downside, he is not the most punishing hitter. He can be overaggressive and misses some tackles in space. He is a low, drag-down tackler.
Extremely rare height and long arms, Tremendous bulk and strength, Athletic freak, Coordinated and can change directions quickly, Elite measurables, Physical nature, Big hitter
Takes false steps in coverage and poor angles, Lacks instincts, Zero ball skills, Not much of a playmaker, Poor tackling technique, throws body around without using arms/hands to wrap up, Hasn't improved his weaknesses going back to sophomore season
Excellent athlete, quick, explosive, violent hitter, excellent range, excellent run support, good work ethic
Poor ball skills, looks for the big hit too often, takes bad angles, doesn;t always play as fast as his times
Best and Worst
Best Case Comparision: Sean Taylor. Mays is the same kind of physical freak that Taylor was. With a little coaching and refinement of his technique, he could be the same kind of dominant force.
Worst Case Comparision: Roy Williams. If Mays doesn't improve his coverage skills, he'll be Williams 2.0. A highly athletic safety that is a liability in the passing game.