I’ve looked at several IDPs over my last few articles, as I’m looking at the defensive players that will have an impact in IDP leagues for this coming 2012 season. I’ve looked at 4 linebackers and a defensive back, who I think are going to have breakout seasons for those that draft them. Now, I’m not so naive to call them sleepers, though. There’s a trove of information available at one’s fingertips, so there’s no such thing as a sleeper. With this piece, I go back to the defensive back and look at a post-hype DB that is on his second-team and looks to be getting a second chance… Cincinnati Bengal safety, Taylor Mays.
Mays was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft by the San Francisco 49‘ers. Coming out of USC, he had all the hype surrounding him and was, at one point, considered the best player in the draft. He has size, speed and athleticism and scouts marveled at his burst and quickness. The knock on him was the fact that he’d go for the SportsCenter hit, instead of being that ball hawk and going after the ball and making a play. His immaturity also came to the fore. As the draft came near, his prospects started to fall and he dropped out of the first round and was the 5th safety taken.
In his rookie year, he appeared in 439 snaps, grading out at a -0.2 overall. In terms of his IDP numbers, he didn’t make too much of an impact, notching just 27 tackles (6.2% tackle frequency) and 0 picks, while grading at a +2.4 for his run defense. He was the target in coverage 16 times and allowed 13 catches and defended just 2 passes. He struggled at times in pass coverage (which led to a -2.0 grade), causing him to lose his starting gig and from then on didn’t appear in more than 38 snaps from Week 10 on. It’s typical for a rookie and Mays didn’t appear to show any signs of someone who’d struggle long-term. In fact, with his size, there were thoughts of moving him to linebacker, which quickly quelled.
The 2011 Off-Season
Mays couldn’t foresee an off-season like the one in 2011. It was expected that his play would improve under Vic Fangio, even with the struggles against pass coverage, and would be given the opportunity to reclaim his lost starting job. As training camp went on, he found himself running with the 2nd team defense and, out of nowhere, the subject of a mass email from GM Trent Baalke to the league saying that Mays was available for trade. So in August, the 49’ers gave up on Mays after one season and traded him to the Bengals for a late-round pick, again, with the hopes that Mays would compete for a starting job.
Mays suffered a knee injury late in the pre-season and found himself behind the 8-ball, playing mostly special teams and only appeared in a handful of games, which resulted him in appearing in just 61 defensive snaps in the 2011 season. So, why, all of the sudden am I touting him for the 2012 season?
I really like this kid’s makeup and the fact that he’s flying under the radar as a starter and you can really take advantage of those in your league that might just sort stats from last year when making projections and cheatsheets. Chris Crocker was released and he finds himself atop the depth chart, but will battle Robert Sands and Jeromy Miles throughout camp. Mays took 1st team reps at SS during OTAs and the Bengals liked Mays coming out of USC in 2010, so he has an advantage right now, even though Mike Zimmer hasn’t officially named a starter. This has been his best opportunity, since his rookie year, to be on the field for significant action and is putting in the work this off-season. Here’s what I’m projecting him for this season:
Taylor Mays is in line to receive significant snaps and should be a strong candidate for a breakout season in his 3rd year in the league. Take full advantage of Mays’ ADP, which according to the Mocking series of drafts, is around 299. He has the chance to put up strong DB3 type numbers for pennies this season.