It's a very interesting question they pose. Some will tell you that Mays' responsibility in the USC defense was to basically shut down the deep pass by playing centerfield, and he did it effectively. But that doesn't answer the question as to whether he's going to be an Ed Reed caliber playmaker at the next level. Mays as a centerfielding FS should have a very successful career in terms of improving the pass defense of whatever team he goes to. But I think there's legitimate concern as to whether he's going to be the next Reed/Polamalu 7+ INT guy.
Tom Kowalski on WDFN thinks U.S.C. safety Taylor Mays could be the answer for Lions' top pick.
DD.comment: While Taylor Mays is a great athlete and hard-hitter, we are not sure he's top 5 material. We think N.F.L. scouts and execs must look at two potential "red flags" before they over draft him: One, while his reported junior day 40 times (4.24 to 4.32) are eye popping for a linebacker-sized safety, U.S.C.'s track seems to be very fast. Fast to the point where their place kicker ran a 4.49 last spring and their top linebackers ran in the low 4.5's. While Mays might be as fast as his junior day times indicate, expect N.F.L. execs to really push him hard to run at the Combine, so he can be timed on the same track as his peers. If he's really a sub 4.3 guy (or close), he should have no problem repeating that in Indy.
Also, and much more importantly, our sources are indicating scouts will try to delve into the reasons why Mays makes very few "big plays". While many fans in cyberspace have dubbed him the "next Ed Reed", his stats don't back that up at all. Mays has collected only one interception (10/06/07 @ Stanford for 0 yards), forced 1 fumble and recorded 2 tackles for loss in the last two seasons combined! Also, Mays never recorded a sack in his 3 years at U.S.C. Now, contrast that to DD.com's favorite safety prospect, Tennessee star Eric Berry, who has collected 12 interceptions for 487 yards and 3 touchdowns and accumulated 11 tackles for loss (3 sacks) in the last two years. Berry, a true sophomore, will not be draft eligible until the spring of 2010. One last point, Mays lack of big plays the last two years is even more startling to us, when you consider U.S.C.'s very promising, but seldom used freshman safety Drew McAllister, was able to garner 3 picks last season in very limited playing time behind Mays and Kevin Ellison.
Again, we aren't saying Mays can't play, but a smart N.F.L. team has to look at why he has made so few "big plays" the last two years. Is this due to U.S.C.'s defensive schemes and how he is used or is he just a good tackler and hard-hitter, but not a Ed Reed or Eric Berry like game changer, who teams want to use a real high pick on?