Senior Bowl Notes: Taylor Mays taking practice hits
The Senior Bowl is a risk/reward event. Taylor Mays, always the competitor, assumed those risks and accepted the Mobile invite. After three days of practice, the safety’s draft stock has taken hits, placing him on several lists of “fallers”.
The most common criticism is Mays lacking a fluid motion in coverage. It is this flaw that allows receivers to separate from the physical defender and find space. The NFL has slowly inched away from smash mouth football, entering an age of finesse, where the passing game has become the more prominent weapon. Though the hard hitting Mays is great in run support, it isn’t likely that an NFL GM is going to use a high first-round draft pick to select another Roy Williams.
He has two practice dates remaining to make corrections in his movement and gain approval from high ranking onlookers. Before the actual start of the game on Saturday, the majority of NFL staff will have already left Alabama. If you recall the Senior Bowl practices a year ago, it was the consensus of many scouts that linebacker Rey Maualuga would be a liability in coverage. He failed to alter those opinions at the NFL combine and inevitably fell to the second round.
The Real McCoy?
There is little mention of Anthony McCoy during the South squad practices, and there’s a reason for it. The tight end hasn’t failed in any drills, but he’s failed to standout among the rest. There is a certain swagger that comes with being a USC Trojan, but during an NFL employment interview you have to increase the intensity and be more aggressive. In other words, you can’t be “that player from USC”, you have to be “that player in Senior Bowl practice”. That player last year was Clay Matthews, who used the event as the initial wave that he rode into the first round.
Along with Jeff Byers, one of the most impressive Trojans in Alabama continues to be the long shot, Stafon Johnson. Johnson has stood out in everything he’s been asked by coaches to do. Today’s showcase was pass blocking, where the tailback held his own against oncoming rushers. Despite the months of football missed, his physical strength remains evident. This attribute, coupled with speed, hands, and ability in space opens the eyes of those originally doubtful he could return to full form—including my own.