Bumped from the FanPosts. This is exemplary work from Fort Worth. There have been a ton of quality FanPosts here recently. Keep up the good work, Rumblers. --Brian
One player that many bloggers here think the Bills should consider with their #11 overall selection in the upcoming draft is Penn State’s Aaron Maybin. If any of you are like me, you didn’t have a clue who Maybin was going into the 2008 season. Once I learned about him, it was too late in the season to watch enough of his games to give him a good evaluation. Since he was a sophomore, I figured he would return to Penn State for at least one more year, and then I could get a closer look at him. Well, the rest is history and I have to make do with what I have. For anyone that is interested, the following are my notes and observations of Aaron Maybin, compiled from game highlights, the entire Rose Bowl game (Penn State versus USC), and the Scouting Combine. Therefore, please consider this an incomplete evaluation.
Positives: Has natural pass rush ability. Shows good quickness off the snap, speed around the corner, and a burst to close. While he mostly penetrates with an outside speed rush, he will also counter by knifing inside or by using a spin move. Reaches out with his arms and forces fumbles. Showed some versatility by playing at both left and right defensive end, as well as occasionally dropping into and covering underneath zones. Defends the run on the move and in pursuit from the backside. Plays with passion and energy. Very competitive; hustles in games and participated in every event at the Combine. Good production (49 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 2008). Appears to have good enough feet to play linebacker. Has added weight and gotten bigger and stronger. Good overall muscle definition. Has no known medical or durability issues and has not missed any games due to injury. Jumped well at the Combine (38” vertical, 10’4” broad).
Negatives: May not have the body type, particularly in the core, trunk, and thigh area where anchor strength is required to be an every-down defensive end in the NFL. Gets moved and pushed around in the running game. USC had some success running at him. Does not show the elite first-step quickness of a DeMarcus Ware or a Dwight Freeney, who are often the first guys moving at the snap. Displayed poor snap anticipation versus USC; was offside and penalized twice for it and almost received a third. Rarely double-teamed or chipped by a running back; is usually single blocked, regardless of run or pass. On two plays versus USC, he was single-blocked by a tight end and he stayed blocked. Only beats blockers with speed or an occasional spin move, and does not show great hand use or other moves to come free, such as a bull rush, a swim, a dip, or a club. Seems to have stiff hips for a linebacker. Demoted from first team to second team during the week of the Rose Bowl. Average overall Combine performance.
Much more after the jump.
Summary: Maybin has the tools to be a very good pass rusher, and with continued coaching and development, he has the potential to be a linebacker or a defensive end in the pros. His best NFL position could be rush linebacker. As a defensive end, some aspects of his game are correctable, but he could always struggle to defend the run in the trenches. Although Maybin could continue to add weight and muscle, the question is not only if he could still maintain his speed and quickness, but also if his body could naturally carry that added manufactured muscle and avoid injuries. Based on his raw talent and natural pass rush ability, I think Maybin grades out as a mid-first round pick.
Other Comments: While it may seem like Maybin has a lot of negatives, please understand these are merely my notes and observations, including specific plays, rather than negatives in his overall game. Also, some of his flaws are correctable. I do believe that Maybin is a first round talent. For a better evaluation, there are a few things that I would like to know but I don’t have access to, or I have been unable confirm: medical and injury information, personal background and character information, intangibles, more game tapes, and measured arm length to extend and defeat blockers, force fumbles, deflect passes, etc.
Additionally, I would like to caution anyone who labels players as being able or unable to do something purely based on height-weight-speed, without understanding what is more important and watching that player play.
When you only look at height or weight, it just doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, Emmitt Smith, one of the best inside runners of all time, was listed at 5’9” and 209 pounds. Reggie Bush is listed at 6’0” and 203 pounds and struggles running inside. Warrick Dunn is 5’9” and 187 pounds, he can run inside, but he also has very thick and strong thighs for his size. Every player is different. A player’s body type, physical makeup, and play in games are so much more important than simply their height and weight.
The same thing can be said about speed. Just because a cornerback runs a 4.3 or 4.4 in the 40 doesn’t automatically mean that he can play man coverage. I think Antrel Rolle ran a 4.3 or 4.4 in the 40, but was unsuccessful at cornerback. A cornerback must have the hips, fluidity, closing speed, and instincts to play man coverage. In addition, just because a wide receiver runs a 4.5 or 4.6 in the 40 doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a possession receiver or that he can’t make big plays down the field. We all know about Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, and Anquan Boldin.
Therefore, when I attempt to evaluate a guy like Aaron Maybin or any pro prospect, I try to avoid those stereotypes and just watch him play. Will he be able to play defensive end in the NFL? Although he gets washed out in the running game, does he have the potential to significantly improve in this area? I thought about every reasonably successful NFL defensive end that I could think of in the last 20 or so years, and the only player with a similar physical makeup to Maybin is Jason Taylor (thin trunk and thin thighs). So defensive end seems like a possibility but not a probability for Maybin. At the same time, like I said, every player is different. If Maybin plays at, say, a more natural 240 pounds, can he compensate against the run by playing with better leverage and technique? On the flip side, does he have the range and athletic ability to move in reverse and play linebacker? He may be best utilized in a hybrid role as a rush linebacker in the pros. Questionable position, unquestionable talent.