Scouts, Inc.: 16th
Strengths: Possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and athleticism. Keeps head up and locates the ball quickly. Reaches top speed quickly, aggressive and makes plays in the backfield. Moves well laterally and generally does a nice job of scraping down the line of scrimmage. Has above-average range, plays with a good motor and makes plays in pursuit. Plays fast and really closes in on ball carriers in a hurry. While he lacks brute strength, he does display explosive short-area power and will strike ball carriers even from nearly a standstill position. Plays with a mean streak. Gets good depth, shows good awareness of routes once he reads pass and covers a lot of ground when asked to drop into zone coverage. Displays fluid hips, changes directions well and shows good burst coming out of cuts when asked to match up in man coverage. Has adequate ball skills and flashes the ability to make plays in coverage. Plays with a good motor and has the potential to develop into a valuable special teams’ contributor.
Weaknesses: Needs to improve his lower-body strength. He has jarring initial power but lacks the brute strength/wide base to anchor. Gets sucked up inside at times and is not a great phone booth player. At his best when he’s protected. Doesn’t use hands all that well and takes too long to shed blocks when offensive linemen are able to lock onto him. Doesn’t always take sound pursuit angles and gets caught out of position at times. Will get caught lunging too much and still misses too many open-field tackles. Still has room to improve in terms of recognition skills in coverage. Gets turned around a little too much when asked to match up in man coverage and needs to improve footwork. Can be overaggressive, occasionally bites on play action and lacks the second gear when gets caught out of pursuit. Only effective as a pass rusher when he gets a clean lane to the QB. Gets caught up in traffic and really struggles to get off of blocks once reached. Missed five games with a knee injury in 2005 and durability is a concern.
Overall: Tennessee red-shirted Mayo in 2004. He started one of the six games he appeared in during the 2005 season. Mayo started 11 of the 12 games he appeared in during the 2006 season finishing with 83 total tackles, 53 unassisted tackles, 12.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and one fumble recovery. He played in all 14 games of the 2007 season finishing with a team-leading 140 total tackles, 79 unassisted tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Mayo has experience playing inside and outside linebacker at Tennessee. While he showed NFL potential in both spots, he seems like a more natural fit on the weak-side where he will get more protection. Mayo is far from a finished product. He is blessed with an outstanding combination of size, speed and athletic ability, which was on display at the combine. But in order to become a good starting linebacker in the NFL, he needs to be more consistent as an open-field tackler and learn to take on blocks more effectively. Mayo has too much potential to last long in Round 2 and that’s if he doesn’t sneak into the bottom of the first round.
Rick Gosselin: 19th
Mel Kiper: 17th
This looks like a reach but, since they’re the Pats, the on air gang at ESPN is praising them for their shrewd pick. Even Kiper, who had this guy as a mid-1st rounder.
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