Career Recap: Ohio State defensive end Chase Young dominated college football in 2019, destroying opponents on a weekly basis and leading the nation with 16.5 sacks. Perhaps the only offensive lineman who was truly impressive versus Young was Michigan's Jalen Mayfield. In plenty of one-on-one matchups, Mayfield got the better of Young, and there were other plays where Young had Mayfield on the ropes, but the young Wolverine was able to recover in time to keep Young from making his typical game-changing plays. It was a breakout performance for the Michigan right tackle to conclude the regular season.
After being a backup as a true freshman, Mayfield showed improvement throughout his sophomore year, playing better against Young and Ohio State than he did in earlier games, like Penn State for example. It was an impressive debut for Mayfield, and Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has been bullish about Mayfield being even better in 2020.
2020 Season Outlook: Mayfield could see some good edge rushers during his junior year, including against Penn State and Michigan State could provide nice competition. At the end of October, he could take on Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis, who broke out in 2019. To end the regular season, Ohio State has some talented young defensive ends in Tyreke Smith, Zach Harrison and Jonathon Cooper.
Skill-Set Summary: Mayfield has the skill set to be a starter at the NFL as he has quality size, athleticism and quickness. While he plays right tackle for Michigan, Mayfield could get consideration to move to left tackle in the NFL, similarly to Alabama/Cleveland Browns tackle Jedrick Wills. Mayfield is a well-rounded player who is young and has a lot of upside to get better as he gains experience.
The things that really jump out about Mayfield are his quickness and athleticism on the edge to neutralize speed rushers. Mayfield is very quick out of his stance, firing backward or forward with explosion off the ball. Thanks to his speed and agility, Mayfield instantly gets good depth in his drop and is able to play the typewriter with his feet to mirror speed rushers. Mayfield has quality feet, and while they're not elite, they're above average.
There are aspects of Mayfield's game that need improvement, and he should improve his technique for taking on NFL defensive linemen. At times, Mayfield lunges after defenders, and he can get his weight too far over his toes. That leads to him missing some blocks in space especially. There are also times where he gives up ground in bull rushes. Mayfield gets too wide with his hands, and that allows defenders to get into his chest to rock him back. While Mayfield has some flaws that lead to him giving up ground, he shows nice recoverability and an ability to re-engage defenders before a rush becomes catastrophic.
In the ground game, Mayfield is a solid contributor at the point of attack. He is not an overpowering road grader like Brandon Scherff was coming out of Iowa, and Mayfield is not as good of a run blocker as Andrew Thomas was at Georgia or Jedrick Wills was at Alabama, but Mayfield is dependable to execute his assignment. He has the strength to control, turn and manipulate defenders at the point of attack. Mayfield is quick to the second level and able to kick out to the perimeter. He should be a solid run blocker in the NFL.
Mayfield could use refinement for the next level, but considering 2019 was only his first season of playing time, that is understandable. The true junior is a young player who has plenty of upside to be even better now that he has some experience.
2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2020 season, Mayfield has the potential to end up grading out as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He also could return for his senior year to improve before going to the NFL.