Mays was expected to be eased into action as a freshman, but a season ending knee injury to starter Josh Pinkard forced him into action. He started 12 games as a freshman, tallying 62 tackles and four interceptions on the year.
As a sophomore last year, he again was the teams starter at free safety and he finished the year with 65 tackles and a pick, earning quite a few All American awards in the process.
You could not draw up a better safety prospect than Taylor Mays. He has fantastic size, at a chiseled 6’3 230lbs, but combines that with fantastic speed and athleticism. It is not all just in workouts that Mays stands out. He displays all those gifts on the field as well.
His role at USC has been to patrol deep coverage and be the last line of defense. That has limited his ability to produce eye popping stats, and limits his opportunities near the line of scrimmage. He is physical and will lay offensive players out on the field. With his strength and speed, he packs a punch when he hits receivers. Mays has shown the athleticism to match up in coverage with players, and the speed to cover a lot of ground when he has to pursue. There isn’t anything on the field he cannot do.
Mays has missed a fair amount of tackles, which shouldn’t happen considering his size. The problem appears to be that he tries to knock people out instead of trying to wrap up. He will have to work on that tendency in the NFL, because it will be a major problem in the league. While his role doesn’t allow him to fly around the field with reckless abandon, you would like to see more playmaking numbers from Mays as well.
With all the talent on the USC defense, Mays may actually be limited on the field because he doesn’t get to fly around the field making plays. He draws criticism because his numbers pale in comparison to other top prospects, but it is not because he cannot do them. As a junior this year though, you do want to see him take advantage of more opportunities and make some more plays. If Mays continues to improve and declares for the draft, he is a player that could be drafted extremely high.