Last month the Jets double dipped at safety with their first two selections. Last week we broke down Jamal Adams, this week it’s his future running mate – Florida safety Marcus Maye.
- 2013: 12 games played, 16 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception
- 2014: 11 games played, 62 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 5 passes defensed, 2 fumbles forced
- 2015: 13 games played, 82 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, 5 fumble forced
- 2016: 9 games played, 50 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 6 passes defensed
Measurables (Pro Day):
Height – 6’0″
Weight – 207 pounds
40 Yard Dash – 4.47 seconds
Vertical Jump – 33 1/2 inches
Broad Jump – 9’10”
20 Yard Shuttle – 4.18 seconds
3-Cone Drill – 7.07 seconds
DISCLAIMER: I mentioned this on my Jamal Adams breakdown as well, but trying to evaluate a safety through TV cut outs can be difficult. The guys at www.draftbreakdown.com do an amazing job, but the amount of games for Maye in particular was limited.
Maye has decent size, tested solidly at his pro day, and was a productive player over several years with the Gators. Florida did not have defined roles for their safeties and so Maye would find himself lined up at all depths of defense and was tasked with a number of roles.
In run support Maye is a willing and active defender, showing the ability to deliver the occasional big hit and a nose for lodging the ball loose (7 forced fumbles at Florida, including 5 as a junior). He has a swim move that often wins versus blocking wide receivers in the run game and he shows craftiness in being able to work around blockers to attack the ball carrier. Like his new teammate, Maye brings an aggressive demeanor going forward.
In coverage Maye is smart, shows good instincts and has adequate range. His ball playing skills are a little inconsistent, but he does a good job of being tight with a receiver at the catch point with a chance to make a play on the ball. He’s in a similar coverage tier to Jamal Adams, athletic and instinctual enough to cover most tight ends, backs and certain slot receivers. Playing over the top, he shows good awareness as the last defender and can play tightly over a WR without threatening to lose the angle deep. He has long arms for a safety, a 1/2 inch longer than Richard Sherman for reference. This helps in coverage where Maye initiates contact and shows good redirect skills in press and making life difficult for receivers in the middle of the field when handling short zone assignments.
I think the typical concerns that are brought up about Jamal Adams (is he just a box safety, is he a coverage playmaker, can he be trusted deep) also apply to Maye but are more amplified as the slightly lesser athlete and lacking Adams’ exceptional instincts. He’s been a much more impactful defender on the stat sheet coming up and hitting somebody than he has been in coverage and PFF attributes 9 touchdowns to him in coverage over his career (although just 1 as a senior).
While Maye can split the field deep he is not an answer as a true centerfielder, he simply lacks this top-shelf range. Nor should he be expected to handle crafty slot receivers with any regularity.
As a tackler Maye is inconsistent. He won’t miss an opportunity to come up and hit somebody when it presents itself, but when required to make an open field tackle often tries to “swing around” the ball carrier rather than run through him. Adding to this is occasional over pursuit or a misjudged angle that leaves Maye out of position to make a clean tackle.
The Jets cutting Marcus Gilchrist felt like only a matter of time even before the draft. The bigger question was whether Todd Bowles would work on salvaging Calvin Pryor or whether he would be phased out in the final year of his rookie deal. Selecting Maye made it not one but two safeties early in the draft and put the writing on the wall for Pryor.
Bowles values the safety position and the Jets thought highly of Maye enough to take him even after selecting Adams. Like Adams, Maye comes from a program where he was tested against top competition and asked to do a lot of different things. There is a lot of overlap in their skill sets. The idea for Bowles is flexibility and unpredictability through a safety pair that features two interchangeable parts.
Faith in this selection is faith in Todd Bowles. The worst case scenario with Marcus Maye is what happens if Bowles really isn’t safe for 2017? Plenty of defensive minds out there consider safeties interchangeable, but if the Jets move on from Bowles and bring in a scheme that defines traditional strong and free safeties, what then?
Maye is a serious candidate to start early, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Pryor or Miles start the first quarter or half of the year with Maye seeing increasingly more snaps as the year goes on. The flip side of Bowles valuing safeties is that a lot is expected of them and leaning on a veteran in one spot to start the year may work to help mitigate mistakes.
What I said about Adams previously applies to Maye as well – do not be surprised to see both of them struggle early. The best way to get production out of a rookie is to bring them into a good situation, focus on what they do well, and don’t overload them with information and responsibility. Adams and Maye are likely going to be thrown into the fire with a corner situation unlikely to do them any favors.
There can be debates over whether a second safety in the top 40 was the best use of resources, but I think at this point Jets fans would settle for an actual useful starter anywhere coming out of the second round. In that respect Maye profiles as good as any pick since David Harris.
Photo courtesy: gridironnow.com