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Old 04-20-2010, 09:48 PM   #1
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Default Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers

Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers
By John Harris
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Off the field, Taylor Mays' story sounds too good to be true. On the field, his college resume should ensure he's a first-round pick in the NFL Draft and the main target of the Steelers.

Mays chose not to leave early and played his senior year at Southern Cal, bypassing an eight-figure contract as a likely top-10 selection.

"I came back to become a better football player, and I feel like I did that," said Mays, a three-time All-American who wanted to provide leadership for his younger teammates. "It wasn't about coming out for the money or the fame. It was more about coming back to be the best safety I could be."

If that selfless depiction of Mays doesn't convince the Steelers to grab him Thursday night with their first-round pick, here's another reason.

Mays play a position the Steelers need to replenish what with Troy Polamalu coming off a torn posterior cruciate knee ligament, Ryan Mundy recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and Ryan Clark's health issues resulting from him having a rare form of the sickle-cell trait.

When Polamalu missed 11 games last season, the Steelers secondary was exposed against the pass while displaying a glaring lack of foot speed.

Adding the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Mays who ran the fastest 40 among defensive backs at the NFL Scouting Combine would give the Steelers' secondary some much-needed quickness and athleticism.

Moreover, Mays' clean-cut persona and spotless record away from football is precisely what the team needs (see: Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes).

Asked what he knows about Mays, Steelers inside linebacker and defensive co-captain James Farrior replied, "I've heard a lot about him."

In fact, Farrior, who played at Virginia, and Polamalu who, like Mays, attended USC were in attendance when Virginia hosted USC on Aug. 30, 2008. Mays recorded six tackles in the Trojans' 52-7 win, including 1 1/2 stops for losses, and broke up a pass.

"I had a chance to see him in a couple of other games, and I saw his workout at the combine. He looks like a phenomenal athlete," Farrior said.

Drafting a safety in the first round makes the most sense for the Steelers, who could also use a talent boost on the offensive and defensive lines and at wide receiver. However, the Steelers have a greater need at safety, where newcomer Will Allen and a banged-up Mundy are the only experienced backups behind Polamalu and Clark.

Physically, Mays has the look of a once-in-a-lifetime player. He's quick enough to drop back and play free safety, big enough to come up and play strong safety in the box (a la Polamalu) and versatile enough to play linebacker.

"I'll play wherever," Mays told reporters at the combine. "I'm a safety. I can play linebacker, especially (in) nickel, and sometimes a safety is a linebacker just playing in the box."

At issue is Mays' ability to track the ball in the air and whether he's more of an athlete than a football player.

"Polamalu had one interception his senior year at USC, and that was in a Pete Carroll defense," said Mays' agent, Gary Wichard, delivering a quote while making the media rounds following USC's pro day. "But you put him with the Steelers and (defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau and look at what he was able to do."

Mays' and Polamalu's career numbers at USC are remarkably similar, making the case that Mays can also be an impact player in the NFL.

Polamalu's career totals at USC included 278 tackles and six interceptions. At the combine, he ran a 4.35 40, recorded a 43-inch vertical jump and bench-pressed 25 reps of 225 pounds.

Mays had 268 career tackles and five interceptions. At the combine, he ran a 4.31 40, recorded a 41-inch vertical jump and did 24 reps at 225 pounds.

"In the NFL, you get paid to get interceptions," Mays said. "I wasn't really coached to do that at USC. I was coached to go for the hit, blow the receiver up."

Mays sounds like a problem the Steelers wouldn't mind solving.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers

Somewhat interesting, but Mays still does not know how to cover. If he learned, I agree that he could be a phenomenal player, at worst he is probably speedier Ryan Clark.

I know alot of people threw jabs at Mays because he can't cover but if what he said in those interviews was something he truly meant then he could work out well for us. It shows he wants to learn and with Polamalu, LeBeau and Clark to mentor him, Mays could become the next great Steelers safety. But may be too risky at 18

Maybe the Steelers like him and are letting everyone throw dirt on him and hyping up Thomas so they can take Mays? Who knows, besides Kevin Colbert and the Steelers organization.
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers

As much as I would love Taylor Mays for the Steelers....I still think that there are greater needs at other positions such as OL and CB maybe even DL early! I wouldn't mind Mays @ all because I'm very confident that with our coaching staff and a mentor in Polamalu the guy will develop....but again we do have a greater need @ CB and I think we might go OL in the 1st anyways.......I thought when Tomlin said that he wouldn't draft Mays or atleast that early in the 1st kind of sounded funny.....I was thinking it was some type of SMOKESCREEN or something but you never know...it might be one because the Niners are really high on Mays....especially coach Singeltary......and they pick @ 17! So IDK maybe he's trying the Steelers are trying to diminish his value by talking CRAP about him and not bringing him in for a visit so he can go under the radar and fall to them @ 18!....but hey anything and anyplayer are possibilities in the 1st round....If they were to draft Mays, the Steelers wouldn't surprise me because they usually stay away of a guy that they try to go after in the 1st round but again anything goes this upcoming Thursday.....I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-21-2010, 02:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers

I think the only way we draft this guy is if he is BPA at 18 and our guys are off the board. Otherwise, we are going OL or DL IMO.

If three or four guys that we would like are all on the board at 18, maybe we trade down, though with 10 picks left, I am not sure how much it would benefit.
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Old 04-21-2010, 03:19 AM   #5

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Default Re: Harris: Mays might be answer for Steelers

well he would fit right in with everyone except troy because nobody else intercepts the ball in our secondary either
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