Taylor Mays – Southern California
Scout: David Syvertsen
Pro Potential: Adrian Wilson – Arizona Cardinals
Agility/Hips: Very tight hips. Does not have the quick twitch that the good cover safeties have in space. Does not seem to do well in short area, too stiff.
Ball Skills: Intercepted three passes his freshman year, but totaled just two in the next three seasons combined. Does not get challenged a lot deep but at the same time, he does not ge this hands on a lot of balls. Has to slow down a significant amount when tracking the ball. Loses balance when looking up.
Body Control: When moving down hill, he remains balanced and powerful which gets the most out of each hit he exerts. Does not maintain that balance when running deep while tracking the ball. The longer he strides, the lesser he controls his body.
Instincts/Recognition: Likes to play it safe, which causes late reaction in the passing game. Diagnoses routes over the middle well and gets himself in position to break up the pass or blow up the receiver. When playing in or near the box, he reads running lanes and gets in to them very quick.
Pass Coverage: Speed allows him to play a true centerfield where he is at his best. A weapon in zone coverage that can be relied upon against the short, intermediate, and deep route trees. Struggles in man coverage, gives a huge cushion because of his lack of ability to change direction. Loses focus on the quarterback and can easily be fooled on a double move.
Pursuit: Takes outstanding angles from the deep safety position. Knows his speed and consistently meets the ball carrier at a spot that results in the least amount of yardage gained. Has the speed to make up for mistakes that he or his teammates make.
Run Support: Plays the run better than most linebackers. Flies in to the box with massive force, strength, and aggression. Can make hits that send running backs to the sideline for good. Is usually good about wrapping up but will occasionally go for the big hit, keeping his arms at bay.
Speed: Has reportedly been timed under 4.4, but his game speed does not match that. While he does really get going when running deep, his acceleration rate is average. Is a long strider that has true sideline-to-sideline range.
Tackling: Is consistently near or at the top of the USC box score when it comes to tackles. Plays well in the box and gets in on a lot of action. When the motivation is there, he can be part of the takedown process on almost every play. Technique is not always sound, simply tries to shoulder a ball carrier in to the ground at times.
Final Word: One look at Taylor Mays in a uniform, it is easy to fall in love with him. He is a man among boys in the college game but the issue is that his performance does not always match his ability. The work ethic is there but the motor runs hot and cold on the field. He is a bit of an underachiever when one considers his tool set. He will need to be in a very specific role at the next level in order to avoid him getting burned in man coverage. At almost 240 pounds, his ability to cover a receiver or an athletic tight end in space will not cut it. But if he can be dropped in and out of the box with simple zone coverage responsibilities, he could thrive.