Taylor Mays Does Not Fit Sean McDermott's Defense

Written By Bob Cunningham On Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mays is an athlete, but he just doesn't fit in Philly.



Many people, including myself, have become enamored with free safety Taylor Mays out of USC during the Combine because of his astounding 40-yard dash time. However, I would caution everyone to look further than his straight-line speed.

Everyone knows he's an athlete. That never has and never will be under scrutiny. The guy is an absolute monster and is about 10 pounds away from playing outside linebacker. Unfortunately he's got the hips of an outside linebacker as well.

In drills that forced him to flip his hips and turn directions very quickly, he appeared a bit slow. I'm not sure if it's his reaction time or he's just tight in the hips, but either one spells bad news for a defense -- especially a blitz-heavy defense like McDermott's.

All I keep hearing is how he's going to be this incredible "in the box" safety and that the Eagles should grab him at No. 24 in the draft. But then I'm left wondering why in the world they let Brian Dawkins walk if this is the kind of safety they're targeting?

Dawkins is still very good at playing in the box and playing like a fourth linebacker, but that just doesn't fit the system. McDermott needs a guy who can play center field and make a play on the ball when the opportunity arises. Dawkins was no longer that guy, and Mays, with his five interceptions in four years, certainly is not that guy.

I'm not saying Mays can't play safety in this league, but he can't play safety for the Eagles and realistically is a strong safety in most defenses.

The only way bringing Mays to Philadelphia would work out is if they (1) move him to strong safety and bump Quintin Mikell to free safety, and or (2) if they can turn Mays into an outside linebacker ala Thomas Davis in Carolina.

The first option probably isn't an option at all. Mikell has settled into his strong safety role and has played well there for them. Moving him now doesn't seem to make much sense considering he would only be a half-notch better at playing center field than Mays.

The second option is a rather intriguing one. At 6'3 and 230 pounds, Mays has the frame to put on the extra weight and become an outside linebacker. Five pounds of muscle would probably get the job done, but 10 pounds would be absolutely ideal.

If the Birds could make him into a SAM linebacker it may just solve the problems they've had with tight ends. He may not be able to cover receivers as a free safety, but covering tight ends should be no problem at all.

However, as fun as that may sound, the Eagles are not going to draft a project with the 24th overall pick. If he somehow dropped to the second round they might consider it, but after seeing him run there has got to be at least one team who has fallen in love with him.

A guy like Earl Thomas would be a good fit if he's there, but I'd really like to see the Eagles draft a defensive end if a good one is there. Carlos Dunlap is tops on my wish list because he's an absolute freak, but if the Eagles pass on him it will be because of his off-the-field issues.

Remember back in 2000 the Eagles took Plaxico Burress after their board entirely because of his off-the-field issues and his look-at-me personality. They could have very well done the same thing with Dunlap, but we'll just have to wait and see if he's even there when they pick.

Either way, I don't foresee Taylor Mays becoming an Eagle. He just doesn't fit the scheme and isn't enough of a sure-thing at outside linebacker for the Birds to feel like they're not gambling.

Look for them to go defensive end or outside linebacker, then try for a safety in the second round if one is available and they haven't filled the need via free agency already.


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