SDBR Q-A: Mayle Ready to 'Surprise Everybody'

The Bolts must address the receiver position this offseason. Eddie Royal is set to become an unrestricted free agent and Malcom Floyd is entering the final year of his contract. One intriguing possibility is Washington State's Vince Mayle, whose size and productivity have him on San Diego’s radar.

Mayle comes off a monster season in which he led the Cougars with 106 catches for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. But all that production came in Mike Leach’s pass-happy spread offense, which inflates the numbers of every receiver on the field. So Mayle accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., to prove he could shine not matter the offense or the level of competition.

“I decided to come [to the Senior Bowl] and participate to show I can play in a pro-style offense and that I wasn’t just getting open because of the spread offense,” Mayle said.

Mayle is proud of his progress at Washington State, where he more than doubled his receptions and yardage numbers from his junior to senior season. However, he has heard the whispers suggesting all that productivity will not translate to the NFL.

“That’s something I’ve come across and it’s the biggest thing I’m going against, GMs saying it’s just the system,” he said.

While teams can question the merits of Mayle’s receiving numbers, there is no questioning his measurements. He is a legitimate 6’3, 219 lbs. If the Chargers pick him up in this year’s draft, it would give San Diego four receivers who measure at least 6’2 (Keenan Allen, Floyd, Dontrelle Inman and Mayle).

Mayle’s outstanding size piques the interest of teams around the league, as many organizations have a strong preference for bigger targets. The catch is that bigger receivers are often slower receivers. Mayle must prove he is the exception to that rule.

“Me being so big, my 40-time is going to be a big deal,” he said. “I’ve never run a 40, so no one has a real time on me. It’s all estimated times. That’s another thing that’s going against me.”

Once Senior Bowl week is over, Mayle will go back to Orlando to continue to train for an NFL Combine that will be absolutely critical for him.

“I’m just going to have to show you guys,” said Mayle of his expectations for the Combine. “I think I’m going to post a time that’s going to surprise everybody.”

Mayle knows how to exploit what is typically an ample size advantage. He fights for 50-50 balls and jumps to attack passes at their highest point. He has learned some of the finer points of the game by watching the NFL’s best big receivers and taking things from their games.

“I watch Demaryius Thomas and Andre Johnson a lot,” he said. “[Andre] plays full speed in his routes and never changes his gears. He catches the ball, he attacks it, and he gets upfield after he catches the ball. And he’s physical. He’s a physical blocker and that’s something I want to add to my game.”

Mayle knows doing the little things, such as blocking, will help him get on the field faster in the NFL. Another key for rookies hoping to play early in their careers? Special teams. Most receivers who post the kind of numbers Mayle did in 2014 have minimal experience on special teams, but that is not the case with him.

“I played on every special team at my school,” he said. “Playing special teams is not a problem for me. It was preached to me at my school that special teams are how you’re going to get to the NFL. I took that and I ran with it.”

Mayle emphasizes that he is an NFL-ready prospect, despite coming from a gimmicky offense. That is one of the main reasons he opted to attend the Senior Bowl, not just to prove himself on the field, but to get a head-start working with an NFL coaching staff.

Mayle, who played for the North Team, worked with a Tennessee Titans coaching staff led by former Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

“It’s good to get that NFL feeling,” he said. “It’s just good to get the college feel out of your body. Now, when I arrive in training camp, I won’t have the shock factor I had when I first got [to the Senior Bowl] and got thrown into install right away.”

After the Senior Bowl and Combine, Mayle will go back to Washington State to prepare for his Pro Day on March 12. If all goes well, he has a chance to hear his name called as early as the third round.

Is Mayle worth a third-round pick to the Chargers? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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