Monday, 25 January 2010

Nothing new from Taylor Mays

By Rob Staton
Another day, another bone crunching hit from Taylor Mays (S, USC) - this time at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. This isn't necessarily a good thing though. Danny O'Neil reports the positive side of the story, stating that one particular hit "drew an audible reaction from the crowd after he prevented a Citadel receiver from coming down with a catch." Remember, the South team were practising in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. This wasn't the real thing.

Here's the other... less positive side of the story from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"Southern California safety Taylor Mays drew the ire of one general manager and a team's top pro personnel man when he leveled wide receiver Andre Roberts (The Citadel) on a deep route. Mays was covering over the top to help the cornerback on the play. In that drill, the NFL types just want to see Mays make a play on the ball. They can see how he hits on film or when everybody is in full pads."

For people who perhaps haven't watched a lot of Mays over the last two years, his spectacular hits are something to behold. He uses every inch of that 6'3" frame to drive into his opponents like a runaway train. However - this has often drawn criticism in some quarters. At times he will target the man instead of making a play for the ball. Here's what I wrote back in October having watched USC vs Notre Dame:

"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 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."

And here's what Chad Reuter at NFL Draft Scout said after the same game:

"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."

There's no doubting that the big hits will interest some. Mays won't change and we're seeing that at the Senior Bowl. But haven't we seen all this before? This is a chance for the SoCal product to prove the doubters wrong who question his read and react skills, the bad angles he consistently takes in coverage and the lack of playmaking production in a long career. Not many teams will pay top dollar for a guy who can't cover, is slow to react and is a liability to draw personal fouls. There's no such thing as a $30m big hit.


Anonymous said...

If he's there at 40 do you see us taking him, would that be a good place to take him?

Anonymous said...

So, if he can get a REAL good DB coach, he will become a beast?

Mr Fish said...

If Pete Carroll -- Mr Figure Out What Makes You Tick -- wasn't able to get it through Mays's head that there's more to playing safety than making the big hit, who can?

This has been the rap against Mays for a while now. So you have to think the coaches have been talking to him about it. That he hasn't changed at all tells me that this might not be something where he's very coachable.

nightwulf said...

Do we really want Ken Hamlin II? I don't...If we had a stellar pass rush, and the D was running like a well oiled machine, maybe...but as things stand now...not a chance...

Anonymous said...

i doubt he is uncoachable all i've ever heard is how much of a good guy and hard worker he is.

Coldmutha said...

I read on the USC Blog that Mays received high praise for the hit and reaction to the ball in the air from Gms & scouts. Also Pete came up to him and said nice job..
You should be hoping for a home touwn kid to do well..are you as hard on Trufant?
Go for it Pete 6th overall pick. From what I hear Mays folks are high execs in the area.
So hard work must be something that comes easy to him

ChavaC said...

I think he has too much upside to not take at 40. If he learns how to turn his head around he has the chance to become a huge playmaker. The only reason I would pass is if Best/Brown are on the board, or if some bonified first round talent drops.

Rob Staton said...

#40 would be a safer area to take Mays. I don't think you can justify taking him in the top fifteen. Right now I think he'll fall into the late first, early second - so there's a chance he'll be their at #40.

Steve in Spain said...

Maybe Mays's game is the way it is because that's the way Carroll likes his safeties to play. The free-ranging enforcer type. Or perhaps Carroll realizes that Mays doesn't have the ability to make plays on the ball and has made a conscious decision to maximize Mays by playing to his strengths. Either way, I wouldn't expect Mays to diversify his repertoire much if he went to the Seahawks.

Rob Staton said...

From ESPN:

"USC S Taylor Mays had a highlight-reel hit on Citadel WR Andre Roberts on a seam route and dislodged the ball, but on the very next play Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson overthrew Alabama TE Colin Peek and Mays could have had an easy interception but was looking for the big hit instead and completely missed the ball."

Anonymous said...

From Texashawk,

Rob, Kyle and Kip,

I was watching Senior bowl practice on NFL network and was intrigued by G Jeff Byers from USC. He flattened his man both times I saw him and seemed to move well. He would obviously be familiar with the Zone System and Pete Carroll. Do you think PC would look to draft him? Where would he grade in your mind and what do you know about him he seemed to have a little nasty streak (but this is only based on 2 plays).

Also I was intrigued by Dexter McCluster out of Ole Miss. However based on Schnieders preference for 6' WR and CB unless PC is completely sold on him I do not see this happening for the Hawks. Your Thoughts?

On Serius a QB "Miller" was critiquing Tebow and was very negative about his release and alluded to it being unfixable. I would like your thoughts on this as well.

Anonymous said...

According to, Mays is practicing well and is doing a good job in coverage. The writer says that his stock is rising and he may push himself back into the top-10.

Intersting stuff.

Rob Staton said...

Daniel Jeremiah at move the sticks says:

"Lots of teams have questions about Taylor Mays ability to play in the deep half. He's late off the hash too much. No anticipation."