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Posted Oct. 26, 2009
The Trojan Torpedo
You have to love height, weight and 40 times if you are a draftnik or draft analyst. Big players who are fast are usually good. Looking at these numbers doesn't take any effort.
I think size and speed are important; don't get me wrong. But there is so much to football other than size and speed�such as making plays.
Now, there are some players that make plays in college that don't have the size and speed to make the same plays at the next level. And sometimes there are players who have great size and speed that simply lack the intangibles to make plays at the next level.
Remember Vernon Gholston? The freak of nature who ran a sub 4.7? Yeah, that same No. 6 overall pick who has been a complete bust and isn't looking like he will ever pan out as the elite pass rusher everyone thought he was.
Gholston has big muscles and great straight-line speed, but he has no instincts and simply lacks game intangibles to make plays.
Taylor Mays reminds me of Gholston. He is a pretty one-dimensional player, and watching the tape of USC-Notre Dame put me over the edge.
Mays has had his question marks for a couple years. One, he takes poor angles to the football. I see this multiple times in run support and pass coverage in the games I have taped and reviewed this season. Secondly, he has zero ball skills. He doesn't locate the football to make a play on the ball and he doesn't intercept the ball. Third, he gets out of control. Fourth, he has no tackling technique. Fifth, like Gholston, he has no instincts.
Mays isn't going to miraculously get better mid-season and he hasn't improved these weaknesses (instincts are brain-eye coordination; you can't improve instincts because they are genetic) over the last two seasons.
To illustrate what I am saying, let's analyze some YouTube videos.
Go to 0:45. Mays takes a horrendous angle to the receiver and gives up a big touchdown. I see this also in run support where he just somehow has no clue where to really be. He gets out of position and this will cost him at the next level.
In the Notre Dame game, I was really frustrated with his tape. His tackling technique is pathetic. He'll throw his body around. Mays thinks football is all about big hits. He doesn't use his arms or hands to wrap up, and this will cost him in the NFL.
Next, go to 4:21. I found this on tape and I was just disgusted. A real first-round talent makes this play, and this has been a big knock on Mays for a couple years: He doesn't make enough plays. Eric Berry breaks this pass up or just flat out picks it off. What Mays did here is just go for the receiver, lower his shoulder, and try to hit the receiver really hard with his body.
He didn't even try to locate the football. He didn't try to go for the interception. He didn't get his hands up. You can simply tell by watching this play Mays' only focus was hitting the receiver.
For this highly repetitive flaw in his game, I have given him the nickname "The Trojan Torpedo." He hits like a human torpedo. Sure he'll get some big hits, but football is about much more than big hits.
The touchdown you saw in the video against Notre Dame that Mays gave up was a big one. Instead of the game being 21-7, it became 21-14 - all because Mays didn't make a play at an OPPORTUNE moment. If Mays can't break up a pass when he is right next to the receiver when the receiver begins to catch the ball, then it will never happen.
I wouldn't draft Mays in the top 40 picks. He's a highly overrated prospect right now. He reminds me of Roy Williams (safety, Bengals). Williams is an average starter, but the Cowboys let him go for a reason.
Mays won't be able to cover anyone in the NFL, and I don't think he could even transition to learn to cover at weakside linebacker either. Outside of closing in fast and making big hits, he isn't an impressive prospect. His instincts are poor and his angles are really bad to the ball.
It's your choice. You can fall in love with height, weight, and speed just like EVERYONE else. Or, you can start evaluating the game. Mays is a great athlete, but he will be just an average pro. He might even (gasp) bust just like Vernon Gholston.
Whenever you start thinking about Mays, just think about Gholston. I whiffed on Gholston just like everyone else. However, the difference between me and everyone else is I learn from my mistakes, and I am not making a mistake on the Trojan Torpedo.