There has been a lot of debate over USC safety Taylor Mays’ 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday. Unofficially Mays clocked times of 4.34 and 4.24. His best time was later downgraded to a 4.43, which still gave him the fastest time of any defensive back at the event.
Most people agree that 4.43 is still freakishly fast for a guy who measured in at 6’3, 230 pounds. But was Mays’ unofficial time actually more accurate than the time he was officially given? Several factors suggest Mays’ official time is likely flawed. For the past three years USC’s training staff has said they’ve routinely clocked Mays in the 4.3s and occasionally sub-4.3 times have been in there. Most scouts who clocked Mays by hand on Tuesday claimed he was legitimately in the low 4.3 area.
Then the NFL Network put together the following video (after the jump) which is a simulcast of the top guys timed in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Mays outpaces everyone but Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford, a world-class sprinter, who clocked in at 4.28. Mays clearly beats LSU’s Trindon Holliday (whose official time was 4.34), Cal’s Jahvid Best (4.35) and Pittsburgh’s Dorin Dickerson (4.40).
So how is it possible that he clocked a slower “official” time than those guys?
All this proves is what most people already knew: Taylor Mays is a freakish athlete. Not only did he run ridiculously fast, he tossed up 24 reps at 225 pounds (second best for defensive backs), had a 41-inch vertical (second to Eric Berry’s 43-inch leap) and a 10’5″ broad jump (second to Berry’s 10’10″).
Let’s say Mays ran a 4.33, which from the above video would be the slowest he could possibly have run and still beat Holliday to the line. That would make him the second-fastest guy at the entire event and one of the fastest defensive players in the history of the NFL Draft. And I know I’m repeating myself here but the dude is 6’3″, 230-pounds, threw up 24 reps and has a 41-inch vertical.
On top of that he’s a smart, humble kid with NFL bloodlines who turned down millions last year to play his final collegiate season and improve. That decision may have ultimately hurt his draft stock, because the Trojans had a tough season in 2009 and much of the blame for USC’s young defense’s mistakes was heaped (unfairly or not) on Mays’ shoulders.
He’s been attacked for being a tad too stiff and not recognizing route angles correctly. But right now, if you’re an NFL executive you have to ask yourself if you enough faith in my coaching staff to correct those errors and turn Mays into what he should be in the NFL. The kid is an absolute monster and with any kind of coaching should be a star for years in the NFL.