2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Marcus Maye
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Over the past two seasons, Maye was one of the most underrated defensive backs in college football. Florida's defense was among the best in the nation over the past two seasons with tons of early round NFL talent. Among those prospects, Maye was one of the most impressive, illustrating a skill set that should translate really well to the passing-driven NFL.
Maye broke into the lineup as a sophomore in 2014. He had a rough start that landed him in Will Muschamp's dog house, but Maye showed improvement as the year progressed. He recorded 62 tackles with an interception and five passes broken up that season. As a junior, Maye had a really good season, and some team sources felt he was the Gators best safety even though teammate Keanu Neal was a future first-round pick. In 2015, Maye totaled 82 tackles, six pass breakups and two interceptions. As a senior, Maye recorded 50 tackles with one interception and six passes broken up, but his season ended early because of a broken left arm.
Maye has the potential to be a real asset for pass coverage in the NFL. He has the speed, size, and ball skills to be a single-high deep free safety. As the deep center fielder, Maye can break on the ball well and is dangerous to pick it off or slap it away. Maye is rangy and adept at making some big plays downfield because he is very instinctive. He covers a lot of ground in the deep part of the field, yet has the size to battle big wideouts and tight ends. Maye also has some man-coverage ability to defend pass-receiving tight ends who cause mismatch problems for most teams. Right now, his off-man coverage on tight ends is not great, but he shows the ability to continue to get better. With some development, Maye could man up on them and should be an asset at neutralizing those kind of weapons. He also has enough speed and athleticism to play some man on slot receivers.
In run defense, Maye can be a solid defender with the size to tackle, and he has a history of making some clutch open-field stops. However, Maye is an inconsistent tackler, and when he missed a tackle on the back end, it often led to huge plays for the opposing team.
Maye is very strong and clearly spends a lot of time in the weight room. He is physical and packs a punch. In run defense and pass coverage, Maye can dish out some rattling hits with force. Given his size and instincts, Maye could be a strong safety type who plays as the eighth man in the box to defend ground games.
Watching Maye yields a few obvious things. Routinely, he can make some tremendous plays; plays that make you say "Wow" and give him the look of a first-round pick. On the flip side, he consistently has hiccups that are extremely painful. After playing great for a half, he would have a critical bust, like letting a big, slow tight end get open against him in the end zone, or missing a tackle he should make on a receiver, allowing the receiver to break downfield for a huge play, or missing tackle on a running back. Maye was often the last line of defense, so when he had a bust, it led to points for the offense. He also made a number of touchdown-saving tackles.
Team sources say these hiccups stem from some vision issues and Maye lacking eye discipline. However, teams love his instincts and his pass-coverage potential for the NFL. They believe that his vision issue can be fixed by a good NFL defensive backs coach. They also like Maye's football character, work ethic, and leadership.
For the NFL, Maye could be flexible to play strong or free safety. He has the versatility to be an interchangeable safety who flips his responsibilities pre-snap. Teams love that kind of safety.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Maye is likely to be a second-round pick, and he won't last long if he makes it to the third round. Maye did turn down an invitation from the NFL to attend the draft in Philadelphia. If Maye can fix his vision issues, he could quickly turn into a good NFL starter and a Pro Bowler.
Player Comparison: Glover Quin. Quin and Maye are very similar. Both are good free safeties who cover a lot of ground in the back end. They are instinctive defenders with ball skills and versatility. After being drafted by the Texans, Quin has gone on to become one of the better safeties in the NFL. Quin (6-0, 207) and Maye are nearly identical in size and in their skill sets.
NFL Matches: Tampa Bay, Houston, Seattle, Buffalo, New York Jets, Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh
There are a lot of potential fits for Maye on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bears, Chargers, Panthers, Bengals and Bills all have top-10 picks and could use a safety. Maye won't go that high, but at least three of those teams could be targeting a safety in Round 2 assuming that Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker go in the top 10. Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu could also go in the middle to late portion of the first round.
Chicago signed Quintin Demps but could use a safety to pair with him. Maye could interest the Bears if they don't take a safety at No. 3. The Chargers need a true replacement for Eric Weddle, and if they don't take a safety in the first round, Maye would be a good fit in Round 2. Carolina needs a safety upgrade, while the Bengals really missed not having Reggie Nelson last year. Buffalo has a need at safety due to Aaron Williams having an uncertain future with a neck injury.
The Jets could use an upgrade at free safety and have shown interest in Maye. Tampa Bay needs an upgrade at safety, and Maye would make sense for the organization's second-round pick. Cleveland needs improved safety play, and Maye would make sense for one of the Browns' second-round picks.
After losing Quintin Demps, the Texans have a huge need at safety. Maye could be a prime target for them in the second round. The Steelers could use a safety to pair with Sean Davis, and Maye could give them a gifted young tandem. Pittsburgh has been showing interest in Maye.
Atlanta could use a free safety to pair with strong safety Keanu Neal, so the team could look to reunite that duo if Maye gets to its second-round pick.
Sources say the Seahawks love Melifonwu, so perhaps Maye could be in play for Seattle also. Earl Thomas has made some noise about retirement, so the Seahawks could start thinking of the future.
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