Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Watch: Florida S Marcus Maye

Let’s highlight a Steelers Draft target who could help clean up the back end of the Steelers secondary: Florida safety Marcus Maye.

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Marcus Maye (20), wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) and teammates run out of the tunnel before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Following another Steelers loss, let’s turn our attention toward the NFL Draft and look for possible solutions to shore up the Steelers issues in 2017.

One area of weakness for Pittsburgh is the back end of their defensive secondary. Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden man the two safety positions, and their play has been less than stellar in 2016. Mitchell has not proven to be a reliable last level of defense and has failed to create a single turnover this season.

It would be safe to assume that the Steelers will look to add additional safety talent in the 2017 draft class. One possible Steelers Draft target who could help out at both safety positions is Florida safety Marcus Maye.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

S Marcus Maye, Florida

Strengths
  • Versatile Defender, experience at both FS, SS, and even LB
  • Big Hitter
  • Ballhawk
  • Covers Ground in Run Support and in Coverage
  • Excellent Athleticism and Quickness
Weaknesses
  • Mental Lapses can lead to splash, offensive plays
  • Slow First Step in Run Support
  • Struggles in Man Coverage vs. TEs
  • Too Passive at moments, needs to stay Aggressive
  • Broke Arm, will miss rest of 2016 CFB season
Highlight

Analysis

Marcus Maye is an experienced, senior safety who has an NFL-ready skill set. Similar to his former teammate, Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal, Maye is a dynamic defender who has played all over the Gators defense.

Maye is a spark plug who always is around the ball and has a knack for making big plays. He has picked off 5 passes and forced 6 fumbles throughout his college career.

Near the line of scrimmage, Maye flashes excellent instincts to contribute in run support. He is at his best when attacking downhill, where he can use his vision and instincts to flow towards the ball carrier and make plays. Additionally, Maye has a reputation as a big hitter who can set the tone for your defense.

In coverage, Maye is at his best playing the centerfielder role in the back end of the defense. As a deep safety, Maye has the athleticism to cover a ton of ground. He keeps his eyes in the backfield and reads quarterbacks eyes to put himself in a position to make plays.

Furthermore, Maye is fairly physical in coverage and will meet receivers with a boom at the catch point.

However, Maye’s biggest weakness is his occasional lapses in concentration. Too often Maye is out of position, takes a bad angle in pursuit, or unsuccessfully attempts to jump a passing lane. This allows the offense to take the top off the defense and generate splash plays. Maye will have to quickly clean up his concentration issues and prove himself as a reliable last level of defense if he wants to make an immediate impact at the NFL level.

Despite his issues, Maye would be an excellent fit in the Steelers defense. While he could probably contribute at both safety positions, I see his best role as a free safety. At this position, Maye can both attack downhill in the run game and serve as a rangy centerfielder against the pass. Even though Maye could certainly start as a SS for Pittsburgh, I would not trust his ability to defend NFL tight ends in man-to-man coverage.

In the 2017 NFL Draft, Maye would be an excellent Steelers draft target on Day 2. However, Maye’s NFL ready skill set and versatility may push his draft stock into the first round.

However, if Maye’s broken arm and mental lapses allow Pittsburgh to snag Maye in the second round, the Steelers could come away with a real steal.

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