Friday, 19 March 2010

POTD: Taylor Mays, S, USC

By Kip Earlywine

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 225
40 time: 4.30


  • Unbelievable combination of size and speed, especially for a DB
  • His rare speed allows him to stack the box and retreat into coverage
  • Has extreme athleticism
  • Hard hitter
  • Unusually long arms
  • Takes good angles and closes in well in run support
  • Extremely good upside
  • Durable (which is notable given his kamikaze style)
  • Experienced...


  • Misreads routes and can make mistakes in coverage that allow big plays
  • Plays out of position sometimes
  • Tends to go for the big hit, even when he shouldn't
  • Very rarely faces the QB in coverage, lacks instincts, not a ball hawk
  • Poor tackling technique, often fails to get head in front (aka: arm tackles)
  • Overall game is sloppy and undisciplined
  • Not a natural football player, definitely a project

My thoughts:

The Seattle-born and Carroll coached Taylor Mays is an impressive physical specimen. He has top 5 pick measurables. Mays has monstrous size for a defensive back, and has been rumored to be capable of a sub 4.3 time. But like Jason Pierre-Paul, Mays is more athlete than football player. Whoever drafts Mays is going to be taking a big risk, because he has some serious holes in his game that weren't fixed from years in an extremely well coached college program.

Still, Mays could very well be a target for the Seahawks. The Seahawks are in need of a strong safety, and this draft offers very few of those with talent. Mays also possesses a special combination of physicality and speed which makes him an asset in the box, but also has the speed to fall back into coverage even when lining up with near the linebackers. This allowed Pete Carroll to show more looks and keep offenses guessing, not to mention cover the run and pass at the same time. Mays is a reach at #14, but with the Whitehurst and Tapp trades, we've seen this front office is more than willing to overpay to get something they want.

Where could Mays go if the Seahawks don't take him? He could go as early as the late teens or early 20's as there is a string teams in that area that are very needy for a safety. However, the impossible to escape Roy Williams comparisons could scare teams away (although Williams somehow made 5 pro-bowls!). Its not unthinkable that Mays could reach the early 2nd round.

Despite his insane potential, I'd prefer not to draft Mays, mainly because the same coach that failed to develop him and fix his mistakes is the same one running our franchise. Carroll may see Mays as an irreplaceable part of his defense though- a player he simply must have to make his defense work. So brace yourselves when the #14 pick comes around (if we still have it). Mays is definitely on the radar.


Jon said...

Man, imagine Spiller at 6 and Mays at 14. It would be a clear case of a college coach running a pro team college style. I doubt that'll happen, I have a feeling a trade out of one of those picks is inevitable but the crazy high upside pick is definitely something we should brace for as Kip said.

His size and speed in the box against the run intrigues me, I'm scared to death of his coverage blunders but have a feeling he'll probably be one of the best Safeties in the league against the run.

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CLanterman said...

I really hope Carroll doesn't see Mays as a Polamalu type. Polamalu is what you get when you combine extreme athleticism, with extreme instincts and brains. Mays just has the athleticism part.

Kip, question for you, I'm doing the 7 round mock draft already (had to sub in for someone, 6 Clausen, 14 Morgan, 40 (this was last week) Damian Williams). With the 4th rounder, with Capers, Veldheer, Hardesty, McKnight, Tate, Franks, Lindley, and Arenas still available, I opted to take Art Jones. I figured that was the last good DT available, and for LT I could take Washington (from Ab Christian) later. Correct move? what would you have done?

Charles said...

My only issue with this is Carroll won't be the one coaching Taylor Mays if we draft him, Jerry Gray will be, and has previously converted a hit first safety (Sean Taylor) into a ballhawker and a player that before his untimely death, was poised to be one of the best players at his position. How do we know that Carroll was the one coaching the DB's specifically at USC? I'm sure he was a pretty busy man there, and had alot more to worry about then singling out one player to coach. I'm not saying that we should or shouldn't draft him, but don't just assume because he didnt fully develop in college that there's no way he can develop in the pros.


If Mays is drafted at 14th I have no problem with that pick. Because at that point our coachs are comparing Earl Thomas to Taylor Mays. I believe there is a better return on investment drafting Mays than Thomas. Mays had an injury prone year prior to that he was coming into 2010 draft as top five player. Drafting CJ Spiller in the 6th spot is more than justifiable. We get to address three needs PR/KR/RB all in one pick.


Hawk's also need a bruiser at the RB position that can gain the hard three yards and sustain a drive. Toby Gerhart would be an ideal fit a bruiser with good size and a 4.43 40 time. He's should be available in the 4th rd. Now I understand we have too many RBs but two of them are unproductive Jones/Ganther. The best way to protect QB is to run the ball Spiller/Gerhart/Foresst.

Misfit said...

Taylor Mays to Seattle: F@%K THAT!

Kip Earlywine said...

Good points Charles. I didn't know about Jerry Gray and Sean Taylor. I guess that will help me be a little less negative about the pick if it happens. : )

Clanterman, (long answer)...

Here's some highlights for Arthur Jones if you haven't seen them yet:

DT is a huge need and Jones has had good college production. He's a good tackler with pretty good instincts. But he also plays with high leverage and is prone to driven back in ways that would make Colin Cole look stout. Because of that, Jones might be considered more of a fit as a 3-4 DE where his awareness is better utilized and leverage is less of a killer. Jones also had a unspecified knee injury which required surgery. That's the only reason he's even available in the 4th round. He's a big risk, and a defensible move given our extreme need for interior pass rushers and overall DT depth.

For me, its really hard to pass on Hardesty or McKnight in the 4th round. Honestly- I'd take both with our two fourths and feel pretty freaking great about that. Although it would suck knowing that barring a late round miracle, we'd be boned at DT again next season.

Like the mock, btw.

CLanterman said...

Thanks for the analysis Kip. I tried to trade up to get Hardesty or McKnight or Tate, but I couldn't get a willing trade partner (participation is severely lacking).

CLanterman said...

I ended up getting Tony Washington with our 4th rounder that we acquired from Philly. He seems like a real diamond in the rough to me, and his history (he's the guy who had sex with his sister when they were both underage) is to me a red flag that's not necessarily a huge red flag if the ability is there.

Nick said...

Laron Landry 2.0. That's not a good thing.

Nick N.

Kip Earlywine said...

I can't say I can empathize with someone who had sex with his sister, but I think calling that a crime is questionable, and he did it at age 16. Its not the same thing as being a rapist or a molester. It embarrassing, weird and perhaps unethical, but its not a red flag in my book.