Taylor Mays S USC
Read & React: Good key-and-diagnose skills. Aggressive in run support, but disciplined and rarely out of position. Understands his role as the last line of defense and generally takes good angles to minimize big gains by opponents, but struggled some as a senior in this area. Mistakes typically occur when he overruns the play and doesn't account for the runner's cutback agility.
Man Coverage: Faster in a straight line than he is quick in a short area. Struggles laterally and loses a step in his transition due to tight hips. Rare recovery speed. Is a rangy defender and can blanket most deep receivers.
Zone Coverage: Controlled aggression in coverage makes him well suited for a zone scheme. Sees the action and reacts quickly. Loses a step in transition, but accelerates smoothly. Good change-of-direction skills. Reliable open-field tackler. Intimidating hitter over the middle.
Closing/Recovery: Rare straight-line speed for a man his size. Reads the action quickly and has great burst to close. Times his leaps well and uses his long arms to bat away passes. Would rather go for the big hit than compete for the ball. Has just five career interceptions -- three as a freshman -- despite 49 career starts.
Run Support: Has played deep in a zone scheme in the past, but flashes outstanding ability in run support. Good key-and-diagnose skills. Can elude blocks, but is willing to take them on and can discard due to his upper-body strength and long arms. Big hitter who runs downhill toward the line of scrimmage.
Tackling: Reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well to make the secure stop. Explosive hitter who loves to intimidate opponents. Lowers his shoulder into the ballcarrier and can separate the football from the man. Leads with his shoulder on big hits, failing to wrap up securely.
Intangibles: Physically imposing athlete with good overall musculature. Freakish combination of size and straight-line speed. Carroll has publicly characterized Mays as USC's fastest player; has reportedly timed in the 4.2s at 230 pounds. Good bloodlines. Father, Stafford Mays, was a defensive lineman in the NFL (St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings) from 1980-1988.
NFL Comparison: Sean Taylor
This is not the direction that I would go, but I think the Seahawks will go this route.