Tag:Taylor Mays
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Barkley, Kalil not only Trojans exploring NFL

Considered possible top five picks in next April's NFL draft, it should come as no surprise that Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil are considering leaving school early.

According to multiple sources, these aren't the only Trojans exploring their options.

Defensive end Nick Perry, a 6-3, 250 pounder in the midst of a breakout campaign is also strongly considering making the jump to the pros. I've been told that if Perry receives a first round grade, the decision has essentially been made. Even if the grade he receives from the NFL Advisory Committee is "a little lower than [first round], he'd still likely go."

Perry led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks through the regular season. He also has 13 tackles for loss among his 54 stops, which ties him for third in the conference and three forced fumbles. While slimmer than scouts might want as a full-time defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, Perry's size and athleticism may make him perfectly suited to transition to outside linebacker for a 3-4 club.

Free safety T.J. McDonald is also strongly considering making the leap to the NFL early. The son of former USC All-American and San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, the 6-2, 205 pound Trojan star has a build and reputation as a big hitter reminiscent of former USC standout Taylor Mays. McDonald has proven to be more comfortable in coverage than his former teammate, however, and has better ball skills. He leads the team with three interceptions this year and had three in 2010, when he earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors in just his first season as a starter. McDonald led the Trojans in tackles (89) in 2010. He finished third this season with 67 stops, including 2.5 for loss.

Perry is currently rated 30th overall on my Big Board and is sixth overall among defensive ends on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings.

McDonald is my 40th rated prospect and ranks second behind only Alabama's Mark Barron among NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 free safety prospects.


Posted on: October 5, 2010 1:29 pm
 

QB Bradford, S Mays earn Rookie of the Week

I was among the biggest critics of the St. Louis Rams' decision to draft quarterback Sam Bradford over the player I believed was the best and surest thing in the 2010 draft -- defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

My argument was simple. Suh was the better player and didn't have Bradford's durability questions. The counter to my argument, of course, was that Bradford played the game's most important position -- and when healthy -- he showed the accuracy of an All-Pro. I didn't disagree with this argument, only that I questioned if Bradford was and could remain healthy.

The question of Bradford's durability will remain, but there is no denying his talent -- which he put on display Sunday in the Rams' second consecutive win. With the win over division rival Seattle, the Bradford-led Rams are now tied atop the NFC West division at 2-2.

Bradford's numbers against the Seahawks (23 of 41 for 289 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) were impressive. However, they don't do him justice. Competing against a former Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck who guided te Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005, Bradford was the more poised and accurate passer. He faced pressure, but calmly stepped up in the pocket and consistently placed the ball where only his receivers could catch it. Bradford exhibited the type of accuracy and ability to step up his play in a critical situation that so impressed me when I scouted his Pro Day workout in person.

There were several impressive performances by rookies on the offensive side of the ball last week, but none came close to that of Bradford, in my opinion.

The decision was a little tougher on the defensive side of the ball -- though one sparkling special teams' play tipped the balance in favor of San Francisco safety Taylor Mays .

Tennessee rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner enjoyed a solid game (11 tackles, three PBUs) against the Broncos and Philadelphia free safety Nate Allen recorded his fourth interception of the year in the Eagles' close loss to Donovan McNabb and the Redskins. 

Like Verner, Mays recorded 11 tackles Sunday. His performance was even more impressive considering that Sunday's game against the Falcons was his first career start. Mays gave the 49ers a different degree of physicality in the backhalf of their defense, pairing with another big hitter (Dashon Goldson) to limit the explosive Falcons offense to only 16 points at home. The Falcons had scored 41 points in their last home game against the Cardinals.

You've probably seen the special teams play that turned into the deciding factor in Mays' earning Defensive Rookie of the Week honors. The 49ers' Delanie Walker and Dominique Zeigler broke through the Atlanta line to block a Michael Koenen punt. Mays, showing better ball skills than he's generally been credited with, leapt high into the air, tracked the ball over his shoulder, caught it securely and pointed his toes to get both feet in bounds for the dazzling touchdown "catch."
 


Posted on: April 23, 2010 11:38 am
 

Red-flagged medicals led to Kindle, Brown's slips

While Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and USC safety Taylor Mays slipping out of the first round will generate much more attention, the two players I was more surprised to see slip out are receiving considerably less fanfare.

Texas pass rusher Sergio Kindle was being graded by some clubs as the best 3-4 rush linebacker in this class. I've spoken to teams who operate out of a 4-3 alignment that were convinced he could hold up as a defensive end in their scheme, as well, and had given him a first round grade.

Similarly, USC left tackle Charles Brown had been rising up draft boards. Brown had turned down the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl due in part to the assurances he'd been receiving from teams that he was already a first round lock. The former tight end has the footwork that teams want in a blindside pass protector and had gained considerable strength and tenacity as a senior, his second season as the Trojan's left tackle after taking over for former All-American and first round pick, Sam Baker.

So what gives?

I'm told some teams had red-flagged each player for previous injuries.

Kindle has had multiple knee injuries in the past, drawing an equivalent of a "D" (on a typical A-F) scale grade for at least one team. It also didn't help that teams were concerned about off-field decision-making with Kindle, as he was arrested for a DUI in 2007 and ran his car into a Austin, Texas apartment while text messaging in 2009.

Brown missed no games over his two starting seasons with the Trojans, but his back was red-flagged by some clubs.

Sources were "a little bit" surprised to see both slip out of the first and acknowledged that each "should go quick" on Friday.


Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:15 pm
 

Big names slipping top story of the 1st Round

For many, the biggest story of the first round will be Tim Tebow. Or the jump of Tyson Alualu. Or the high number of trades. The fact that seven defensive backs made the first round. The "second" run on offensive tackles that many (including myself) had projected never materializing...
However, the most surprising result might be how three of the most well known names in college football slipped completely out of the top 32.

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, USC's Taylor Mays, and Texas' Sergio Kindle entered the draft viewed by some as three of the "safer" picks to make the first round. While Clausen and Mays, in particular, were projected by many to slip, few thought they'd actually slip out of the first round entirely.

If the NFL had hoped to build drama for their Friday coverage, they couldn't have hoped for much more of a story. Many of the most recognizable players in the draft are still waiting to hear their names called.


Posted on: March 31, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 7:21 pm
 

USC Pro Day results filtering in

Unlike in years past where the Trojans have featured several elite prospects, the USC Pro Day today has generated surprising little buzz among scouts I've spoken with.

Some of this is the fact that the most highly touted player from USC -- safety Taylor Mays -- lit up the Combine with his blazing times in the 40-yard dash and wasn't expected to do the full workout in LA today. As expected, he did not run. He did go through defensive back drills, however, and, according to scouts in attendance, struggled a bit in his transition. This is no surprise to anyone who has watched him in person. We mentioned as much about Mays on several occasions, including at the Senior Bowl.

It didn't help that today's workout was in drizzly, cold conditions. There were, however, several noteworthy performances.

One athlete that did help himself with another strong performance I'm told is pass rusher Everson Griffen. Not only did Griffen get timed at 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he demonstrated an explosive burst off the snap in defensive line drills and good fluidity in linebacker drills.

Cornerback Kevin Thomas continues to move up draft rankings with another strong performance. He was timed in the early to mid 4.4s and looked very good in positional drills. Thomas won't have much time to rest before working out again, as he's scheduled a personal workout with Cleveland scouts for Thursday.

Versatile offensive lineman Alex Parsons helped his cause by shaving nearly three-tenths of a second off his Combine time in the 40-yard dash. Parsons had been clocked at 5.16 seconds in the event in Indianapolis, but scouts had him in the early 4.9s Wednesday.

Wide receiver Damian Williams did not run the 40-yard dash in LA, which was a bit of a surprise as scouts thought he'd might want to try to better the 4.55 time he recorded in Indianapolis. He did show off his quick feet and balance as a route-runner. I've said it before... I see Damian Williams as a poor man's Greg Jennings and feel that his sure route-running and hands make him one of the more pro-ready receivers of the 2010 draft.

Considering that left tackle Charles Brown was one of the few Trojans who did not do the full workout at the Combine, his Pro Day performance was more important. Unfortunately for Brown, he suffered a pulled hamstring running the 40-yard dash and was unable to participate in the position drills. He also wasn't able to match the 21 repetitions of 225 pounds he posted at the Combine, lifting the bar 20 times today.

Like Brown, running back Joe McKnight was unable to fully compete Wednesday due to injury. McKnight told scouts that he's battling a toe injury. He had been timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Redskins at No. 4 key to Top Ten

Last year I argued that the Seattle Seahawks were the key to how the top ten would play out.

They had expressed considerable interest in quarterback Mark Sanchez, had a greater need at offensive tackle and employed a general manager in Tim Ruskell who favored safe players like outside linebacker Aaron Curry.

The Seahawks obviously went with Curry with the fourth pick of the draft.

The ramifications of this decision, of course, were that the Browns traded their pick to the Jets, who took Sanchez and the run on offensive linemen continued in the top ten despite Seattle ignoring the position.

This year the Washington Redskins own the fourth pick. They're the team thought likely by league insiders to control what happens early in the first round.

It is possible that the Lions surprise and select OT Russell Okung second overall to protect their young quarterback Matt Stafford, but most in the league believe the three best players in the 2010 draft are Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy -- likely going in that order to the Rams, Lions and Bucs, respectively.

The Redskins have a need for a young quarterback, especially considering that Jason Campbell is a restricted free agent expected to sign a one year deal. The Redskins recently signed former first round pick Rex Grossman, but he too, is only signed through next season. There are some who believe Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is destined for the Redskins.

Others, however, point to Washington's lack of talent at offensive tackle. The retirement of Chris Samuels opened up a gaping hole at left tackle that veteran Levi Jones struggled to fill last year when Samuels was hurt. Right tackle isn't much better with Stephon Heyer.

Still others have argued that a good Washington defense could carry the team in Mike Shanahan's first year if he were to find more playmakers in the secondary. LaRon Landry hasn't produced as expected to his point and has been outplayed by Chris Horton. Eric Berry, who many believe to the be in conversation with Bradford, Suh and McCoy as the elite players in this draft could be a tempting option.

The shoddy depth and extreme importance of the quarterback position could force Shanahan to grab Clausen. If so, you can expect the next best quarterbacks -- Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, etc -- to be pushed up the board that much higher.

The same would apply at OT or S should the Redskins go in those directions. There is no denying that along with defensive linemen, offensive tackles and safeties are the strengths of this draft. Three offensive tackles went in the top ten last year. Should Washington select Okung at No. 4, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams may not be far behind.

The more intriguing scenario might be if Washington selects Berry. Only twice since 1993 have there been three pure safeties selected in the first round (1998, 2007). This will almost surely occur in 2010 with Berry, Texas' Earl Thomas and USC's Taylor Mays all likely to be drafted in the opening frame. Should Berry go early, however, a run on safeties could result, pushing South Florida's Nate Allen into the mix.


Posted on: March 16, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Seahawks tip hand by cutting FS Grant?

Last year the Seahawks made it clear they were targeting Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry with the fourth overall pick by trading away their incumbent starter at the position, veteran Julian Peterson to the Detroit Lions days before the draft.

Are they making a similar statement this year by cutting safety Deon Grant?

Some will point out that Grant was due four million in 2010 and that the Seahawks' pass defense ranked 30th in the league last year. Grant, however, was arguably the team's most consistent player in the secondary last year and was a solid addition to the team since signing as a free agent three years ago. He was a team captain last year.

Without Deon Grant on the roster, the Seahawks' most experienced safety is Jordan Babineaux, a hybrid corner, who has flashed potential and impressed with his occasional big plays, but has struggled as an open field tackler.

Might the release of Grant signal that the Seahawks are looking heavily at Tennessee safety Eric Berry with the sixth overall pick?

Or that Pete Carroll is positioning himself to take his former All-American Taylor Mays with the 14th pick?

Perhaps Seattle, as Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune suggests , is just starting a salary cap purge with Grant.


 

Posted on: March 6, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Combine Risers-Fallers

Typically, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter writes the weely Risers-Fallers articles, but with his traveling on the deadline date I was asked to weigh in with my opinions.

There were well over a dozen players I strongly considered mentioning in the article. I elected to not list highly touted athletes like CJ Spiller and Eric Berry because there stock had already been established as clearly top grade. Similarly, I decided against writing up the elite athletes that scouts knew would be impressive -- like Taylor Mays and Jacoby Ford.

Perhaps the one player I struggled with most -- and ultimately didn't add -- was Cal running back Jahvid Best. He fit both of the earlier categories I mentioned as a highly touted player and a known speed demon, but the reason I elected not to list him among the Risers despite an eye-popping performance is that the grade most important to whether his stock will rise or fall -- his medical -- isn't yet known.

The five players I listed as Risers and five I listed as Fallers can be seen here.

As always, I'm curious to read your thoughts.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com