O’Dea High School safety Taylor Mays is out to prove it wasn’t a mistake to return to USC

Published on March 2, 2010 by     

100301-mays-450Taylor Mays came to the NFL scouting combine with something to prove.

Not to those who questioned his decision to return to the University of Southern California for his senior season after he was considered a lock to be a Top 15 draft choice last year. Not even to those who have been questioning his fluidity and coverage skills since his Senior Bowl performance in January.

No, the four-starter at free safety for the Trojans and a former all-state player and state sprint champion from O’Dea High School is intent on proving that he is who we thought he was – not who some no longer think he is.

“I don’t think so at all,” Mays said during his podium session at the NFL scouting combine when asked if his level of play had fallen off last season. “That never came from one of my coaches or any NFL personnel I’ve talked to.

“It only came from the media, which didn’t bother me because they don’t have an influence on how I play.”

Mays then looked the questioner in the eyes and offered, “I can get it done.”

Just ask Pete Carroll. The Seahawks’ new coach was Mays’ coach at USC. When the subject turns to Mays, Carroll becomes a one-man chamber of commerce for one player he obviously admires.

“He’s an amazing kid. He’s really an all-around great person. A terrific competitor. Everything that you would want,” Carroll began before the question had even ended. “The guy studies the game and works to improve his craft. He’s really very mature, in regard to mentoring young players. He’s a dedicated guy with ability and speed and strength and agility. He’s got a great family background. He’s a very high-class kid.

“He has all the positives that you’re looking for.”

Carroll is not alone in that glowing assessment.

“He’s got a body sculpted by God,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Mays, who checked in at 6 feet 3, 230 pounds during the combine.

“Have I ever seen anyone that big move that fast? Maybe when I walked by the cheetah cage at a wildfire park,” said Chris Carlisle, the long-time strength and conditioning coach at USC who now fills the same position with Seahawks.

So why is it suddenly open season on Mays, leaving him to answer questions about his decision to stay in school and also his skills?

Mays handled the one-more-year topic, after admitting that he did come close to declaring for the draft last year.

“In the end, I just got my eyes put on trying to be the best one more time, trying to learn the game a little more,” said Mays, the son of former NFL and University of Washington defensive lineman Stafford Mays.

“It wasn’t about coming out for the money or the fame. It was more about just being a finished product and being the best safety I can be.”

As for his skills, Mayock came at his assessment though the backdoor.

“He’s got size. He’s going to run well. He’s got good range. And he’s a physical kid. So when you add all that up, he’s probably a first-round pick,” he said.

Probably? Mayock then compared Mays to Tennessee’s Eric Berry and Texas’ Earl Thomas in adding, “The only issue I have with the kid is I don’t think he has the instincts that Thomas and Berry have. That’s why I don’t think he makes as many plays as those two kids do.

“Two years ago, Berry had seven interceptions. This year, Thomas had eight interceptions. I look at Taylor Mays, he’s played on one of the best defenses in the country for four consecutive years and in his career he’s only had five interceptions – and three of those were when he was a freshman. So you can talk about how you played him and why they played him and all those different things, but when you put the tape on I don’t think he’s as instinctive as the other two.”

Mays answered that by pointing out that there are plays, and then there are plays – and that with 96 tackles last season he had 43 more than as a junior; not to mention 19 and nine more than Thomas and Berry in 2009.

“I get to the ball, and I get to the ball fast – read plays quickly, and blow it up when I get there,” he said. “I get guys lined up in front of me, almost being the quarterback of the defense, and try to make plays around the field.”

Last year, however, the unit in front of Mays was missing four linebackers who were selected in last year’s NFL draft: Brian Cushing, the NFL defensive rookie of the year for the Houston Texans; Clay Matthews, who had 10 sacks for the Green Bay Packers; Ray Maualuga, who had 63 tackles in 15 starts for the Cincinnati Bengals; and Kaluka Maiava, who had 45 tackles and 2½ sacks as a part-time starter for the Cleveland Browns.

“It was a lot different,” Mays said of life without that foursome. “It was just a different team, a different defense.”

It’s a difference that also has some teams wondering if Mays’ size and style don’t make him better suited to play strong safety or even outside linebacker in the NFL.

“I’m a safety, but I’ll play wherever,” Mays said. “I can play linebacker – especially in nickel, and sometimes a safety is a linebacker just playing in the box (near the line and between the tackles). I trust that the team will hopefully draft based upon what they think I can do best.”

Not what others think he can’t do.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

Hroniss-Grasu

Three draft prospects who could fit Seahawks’ needs on offensive line

Donovan Smith was going through relatively rote answers to yet more questions at the NFL’s scouting combine in ...

Schneider knows what he’s looking for in new Seahawks

Given this is the sixth time John Schneider has sat with media for a casual pre-draft conversation, he’s ...
Tuesday Round Up  Bruce Irvin and Jimmy Graham squash their  beef  in Hawaii   Seattle Seahawks

Bruce Irvin and Jimmy Graham squash their “beef” in Hawaii

Irvin, Graham Squash The Beef Prior to the team taking off to Hawaii for player-organized offseason workouts this past ...
d51b7967cd7fce1bfa7a4df85436c60b_crop_north

Report: Michael Bennett wants trade to Atlanta, new contract

Maybe there’s a reason Greg Hardy’s taking a trip to Seattle. Apparently, one of their pass-rushers wants out, which ...
GrahamJohnDavidMercerUSAToday

Seahawks trading Center Max Unger for TE supreme Jimmy Graham

The Seahawks just made the biggest splash of the brand-new league year. New Orleans has agreed to send superstar ...
richard-sherman-reaction-to-malcolm-butler-interception

Another Season in the Books – By: Richard Sherman

POSTED BY: RICHARD SHERMAN 2014 was a wild but great year. It was a tremendous growing year for me ...
150306-lynch-660

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks sign two-year extension

The Seattle Seahawks plan to keep Marshawn Lynch around for the long haul.The team announced Friday that Lynch ...
150306-miller-600

Zach Miller released by Seattle Seahawks

Veteran tight end Zach Miller is looking for a new job after four years in Seattle. The Seahawks announced ...

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at NFLShop.com

lat-noise-wre0011368363-20130915

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz