Monday, 19 October 2009

Taylor Mays and draft thoughts on USC vs ND

I've just had a chance to watch some film of the USC vs Notre Dame game from Saturday and Taylor Mays is simply not doing it for me. I raised concerns earlier in the year about his instincts and how he relies too much on big hits, usually when the ball carrier has already made the first down. These concerns were again prevelent at the weekend.

With 5:25 left in the third quarter, Clausen throws a high floated deep pass from midfield to the left corner of the end zone for Golden Tate. He's in double coverage, but gets a yard on the corner back. Mays is in prime position to make a play for the ball, but instead he puts his head down and tries to take out the man. He never once looks for the ball, which he easily could've got a hand on to break it up. The result? A big touchdown.

It only got worse later on. Notre Dame are on 4th and 10 with 37 seconds left. Clausen lays out a pass through the middle, which Mays is slow to react to. The cornerback makes the tackle, but because Mays is so late on the play he clumsily comes diving in after the receiver is on the turf, hitting him in the helmet and drawing a penalty. The home team couldn't take advantage, but it could easily have cost USC the game.

Chad Reuter at NFL Draft Scout sums it up perfectly:

"Mays was often a step late to help his corners and multiple times he chose to lower a shoulder into a receiver instead of wrapping up and possibly forcing a fumble. The personal foul he picked up (his second of the half) for needlessly launching himself head-first into a receiver in the game's final series in regulation could have been a killer. Thankfully for Mays and his teammates, Clausen and his receivers couldn't connect in three throws to the end zone."

On a more positive front, two receivers stood out. Damian Williams (USC) and Golden Tate (ND) put up a combined 225 receiving yards and scored four touchdowns. I like Williams' speed and ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. He's a return threat on special teams but looks particularly dangerous on screens when you get the ball to him in space. He's not a polished route runner, but with 100+ receiving yards in each of his last three games he's developing quickly. Golden Tate has really picked up the slack after Malcom Floyd went down injured. He's on course for approaching 1500 receiving yards and 12 TD's this year. He's got great hands, is good after the catch and generally has a very good all round game without owning any elite size or speed physical statistics.

I also kept an eye on two offensive lineman, Charles Brown (USC) and Sam Young (ND). I was really disappointed with Young, who in all fairness doesn't warrant any consideration until the later rounds - something again echoed by Chad Reuter:

"Young anchored well against Griffin and others at times, and has the size and durability to be drafted sometime on Draft Saturday (rounds four through seven). But efforts like this one against USC might cause him to be selected closer to the end of the day."

Brown was much more impressive. I liked his footwork, he seemed really nimble on his feet. Pass protection was very good man on man, showing reasonable strength but good athleticism to wall off rushers. Occassionally he was pushed back when a defensive end got his hands underneath his pads and he could do a better job gaining leverage and showing a stronger initial punch. But I didn't see anything that really put me off - I'd like to see him again over a full game.


Anonymous said...

I spent most of the game watching Charles Brown and came away impressed. He is so agile and looked strong enough to get the job done. I've watched Trent Williams and Okung but liked Brown the best so far by a good margin. He's a great fit for the Hawks too. I haven't watched Bulaga yet, but if we go tackle early I hope it's Brown.


Rob Staton said...

Neither Williams or Okung are good scheme fits. I've not been very impressed with Williams at all - too big and cumbersome. He's a right tackle in the NFL at best. He went off injured against Texas, not sure if it's anything serious.

I agree though, Stiz, that Brown has been the most impressive. Great footwork and athleticism which is what Seattle look for. Not perfect by any means - he could stand to get stronger in the upper body. But I think if anyone is going to drift up the boards at left tackle it's going to be Brown.

Patrick said...

I'm really starting to like Brown but now I'm a little concerned other people might start to like him as well. Do you think his draft stock is going to rise so much he may be out of our reach? If by chance we are (unfortunetly) say a top-10 pick, do you think he really is a top-10 pick?

Rob Staton said...

I need to see a full game, probably two full games before I can make that judgement. Jason Smith had a low first round grade this time last year, so it's not impossible Brown could shoot up the boards. Having said that, Smith played for Baylor. How does a USC prospect go under the radar like that?

gonzhawk said...

great blog-Great Blue North GBN calculated the draft if were held today-we would have #7 ours, and #32, Denver's-

what do you think could happen, hypothetically? BPA could be defense-and do you really think its worth taking any RB in round one? not top ten to be sure, but maybe 32?

Kyle Rota said...

I'm really impressed with Trent William's straight-ahead speed and his drive blocking is great... But I don't think he's a LT on a good team and probably not a RT for us, since we don't want to be keeping Carlson in to block. Some team will be happy with him, though.

I'm hoping Charles Brown turns out to be a bit like Jason Smith - a little light but capable of adding weight, great athleticism, good drive and determination. Even if he's raw, I'd prefer we draft a guy who at least has the potential to be an NFL LT.

Rob Staton said...

Hi gonzhawk, thanks for the positive feedback. In that hypothetical situation... BPA could be someone like Suh or Gerald McCoy if they drop even though it'd be an expensive investment for 35 snaps a game (Seattle rotate their DT's regularly). It could be someone like Derrick Morgan, who I like a lot. I'm also a fan of Joe Haden and think he'll got a bit earlier than most mocks are predicting - and then obviously there's the whole QB issue. It's hard to determine which of the QB's on offer Ruskell would consider - but if they were picking 7th the chances are they'd have the pick of the whole class apart from possibly 1-2 exceptions. I'm not a fan of taking him this early myself, but the Seahawks like playmakers on defense and Eric Berry will almost certainly be available at #7.

It's still early days though and the board could shape differently, particularly at the top.

As for RB's - I'd give CJ Spiller a grade in the 20-32 range. I'd certainly advocate taking him at 32. Apart from that, I like Joe McKnight but I don't think he's a Ruskell guy. Jahvid Best is a borderline first round pick too.