As New England heads into the second tier of free agency, this is when fans can get an idea what the Patriots may be thinking for the draft. Although this draft is a little top heavy and was reported to only having 16 players with first round grades, there are many players that will contribute for years to come. The players that will succeed not only have talent, they have a motor that pushes them to be good, or sometimes great. Lorenzo Mauldin, the 6'4, 259 pound outside linebacker out of Louisville is the exact type of player who has a chance to succeed because his ability and his character. Everyone professes to love those players; the Patriots back it up and draft them.
Mauldin, a 6'4, 259 pound outside linebacker/defensive end, played his high school career at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Mauldin was ranked as the 133rd best defensive end in the country by Scout.com and 67th best by ESPN.com. Mauldin may have had differing opinions on his ability from media publications, but as far as the coaches from the college ranks were concerned, Mauldin was for real. He originally committed to South Carolina after being recruited by Louisville, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, South Carolina and Troy. Mauldin committed to South Carolina, but they ran out of scholarships, rescinded his offer, and he signed with Louisville instead.
As a freshman, Mauldin appeared in 12 out of 13 games, starting two, recording one solo tackle, five assisted tackles, and one tackle for loss. His sophomore year was better, starting six games, appearing in 11 and making a strong contribution to the Louisville defense. Mauldin finished with 11 solo tackles, 11 assisted tackles, seven tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one pass defended. Mauldin was showing glimpses of what he could become during his freshman and sophomore year, and the glimpse became consistent production in his junior year. Mauldin finished with 29 solo tackles, 11 assisted tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, four passes broken up, three quarterback hurries, and three forced fumbles. He continued to produce big numbers during his senior year, finishing the season with 36 tackles, 15 assisted tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes broken up, 11 quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble.
Mauldin is a high-character young man, and the main reason is because of the difficult times he had growing up. Mauldin lived in 16 different foster homes before he graduated high school and earned his scholarship to Louisville. There isn't any situation that is going to break him in the NFL and he is the type of player that will do anything he can to improve. He is very coachable, and when you combine that with his natural talent, it gives him a great chance to become a very productive NFL player. Mauldin does need to work on his quickness and he also needs to get a little thicker in the lower body, but his natural ability will allow him to succeed, even with his few shortcomings. Bill Belichick was at the Louisville Pro Day two weeks ago and it's safe to assume that one player he was watching intently was Mauldin, who would fill a huge need for the Patriots, a team that is starving for pass rushers. The Patriots secondary is going to need a lot of help from the front seven next season, and adding a player like Mauldin would definitely go a long way in upgrading the pass rush.