Mauldin entered the foster family system at the age of two, along with his four siblings, due to his mother and father both being in and out of jail over his lifetime. He played organized football for the first time as a sophomore in high school and quickly attracted the attention of recruiters. Mauldin originally signed with South Carolina, but low test scores forced the Gamecocks to move on and he committed to Louisville shortly after re-taking the SATs. He switched between defensive end and tight end as a true freshman, but focused on defense, working his way into the starting line-up his first two years for the Cardinals. Mauldin became a full-time starting defensive end as a junior in 2013, finishing second on the team in tackles for loss (12.0) and sacks (9.5) and earning Second Team All-ACC honors. With Louisville moving to a 3-4 base scheme, he moved to a stand-up OLB role in 2014 as a senior and was again among the team leaders in tackles for loss and sacks.
In and out of 16 foster homes growing up, Mauldin has an extensive backstory, but received direction and developed the maturity to keep his life on track and focus on football, landing at Louisville, earning his college degree and becoming a legitimate NFL prospect. He isn't a twitchy athlete, but moves decisively with quickness and agile movement skills to play on his feet, working through bodies with consistent momentum. Mauldin is an intense, confident player with a relentless motor that makes him a chore to block. He has some tweener traits and has skills that will be attractive for both schemes, but is probably best suited adding weight and playing with his hand on the ground.
STRENGTHS: Quick-footed with lower -ody agility and burst in space. Clean footwork and solid change of direction skills as a stand-up defender. Smooth strides off the edge to hit his top speed quickly, occasionally showing the ability to dip and bend. Quick trigger and get-off to aggressively attack gaps. Physical hand use and an improved punch. Trusts his vision with quick reflexes to react to the action, reading plays well to get his hands up and obstruct passing lanes (7 pass break-ups the past two seasons). Heady awareness to locate, track and attack with his eyes always focused on the ball, not the bodies in front of him. Hits like a truck and his pursuit is always in full-go mode. Active, emotional and fiery player with natural leadership traits, looking to educate his teammates. Versatile starting experience at end and linebacker, rushing from a three point stance and also standing up as both a rusher and coverage defender. Self-motivated hard worker who has shown the ability to overcome adversity and keep his priorities straight.
WEAKNESSES: Average size, frame and length with limited growth potential. Upper body strength has room for improvement to help his shed technique. Can get locked up and struggles to get his body free. Plays tall and lacks ideal flexibility or pad level off the edge. Needs to better set up his rush and develop his secondary moves to attack with a cohesive plan rushing the passes. Needs to be more reliable setting the edge and not losing contain. Will overpursue and needs to better control his intensity. Snap movements have been inconsistent in the past, both early and late. Durability needs vetted after a number of nagging injuries over his career, including an on-campus moped accident (April 2013), shoulder surgery (spring 2014) and a hamstring issue that plagued him as a senior. Played both defensive end and linebacker as a starter in college and has some tweener traits.
05/05/2015 - One of the draft's more poignant moments occurred when the Jets selected Louisville linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin in the third round on Friday night. Mauldin, who spent his childhood in 16 foster homes after his parents were imprisoned, wept during a conference call with reporters late Friday night as he pondered the winding path he took to the NFL. "I've been thinking about this ever since I was playing Pop Warner football as a wide receiver," Mauldin said. "My emotions right now ... I'm speechless, I can't even think right now, man. "This is my chance to show everybody that I can do what I can do, and I'm going to do it beyond what I do. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to work harder than hard." Mauldin's reaction moved his new head coach. "For the things he's went through - that all plays into the character of a person and helps build who you are," Bowles said. "I think he's grown into a great young man. From where he came from, to where he is now, being drafted, I can see where he would be emotional." - The Sports Xchange