Patriots Pick: First Round (10th overall)
COLLEGE CAREER: In 36 games at Tennessee, Mayo started 24 contests. He recorded 236 tackles (137 solo) with six quarterback pressures, 6.5 sacks for minus-51 yards and 21 stops for losses of 82 yards. He recovered and caused a fumble, as he deflected three passes and intercepted another for a 34-yard touchdown return. As a senior he moved from weak side linebacker to middle linebacker and enjoyed an all-SEC and all-America season.
PROJECTED AS: Scouts consider Mayo an inside linebacker though he has experience playing multiple positions at Tennessee. The Patriots run the 3-4 defense which would put Mayo squarely in the middle as one of the two inside linebackers, most likely as Tedy Bruschi's backup.
PATRIOTS PRE-DRAFT INTEREST: New England hosted Mayo for a visit, along with llinebackers Keith Rivers and Vernon Gholston. It's believed that New England would have taken either Rivers or Mayo to solidify the interior linebacker position. The Patriots saw Mayo at the combine, as well as at his pro day.
DRAFT VALUE: A first-round pick, though mock drafts vary as to where. He's gone as high as the Top 10 and as low as the bottom five selections. He is, however, clearly the No. 2 linebacker off the board in this draft.
SCOUT.COM'S TOM MARINO'S ANALYSIS: He's young and he has a ways to go in terms of strength and keeping his pads down (gets high). I loved his ability to both meet and defeat pressure inside. Smart player with very good instincts. Runs well and showed excellent playing range. Highly productive, although he needs more tackle strength. Very good zone drops and awareness. He needs some work in man. Not near his full playing potential.
WHAT OTHER SERVICES ARE SAYING:
(In comparing Mayo to Randall Godfrey — "During his prime, Godfrey's ability to play on the outside or inside proved invaluable. While Mayo proved that he has the field smarts to handle middle linebacker, he might lack the bulk to do so at the next level, unless the team has big defensive tackles to absorb the blocks and protect him. With his range and closing speed, he could be a better fit on the weak side, whether aligned outside in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4. He could be a perfect fit to team up with David Harris in New York's 3-4 defense. Still, with his history of injury problems, one has to wonder if he can survive a full season at the next level." — NFLDraftscout.com
"Mayo, a junior, could have improved his draft stock a bit if he had returned to school but made a solid choice to enter the '08 draft. He isn't the huge thumper some NFL coaches prefer at middle/inside linebacker, but he packs great strength for his size. Mayo should be productive in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Additionally, he will be a great special teams coverage man until he develops into a defensive starter." — Sportingnews.com War Room.
PATRIOTS INSIDER ANALYSIS: With Vernon Gholston going off the board to the New York Jets at the number 6 spot, the Patriots only real option at No. 7 was to trade down. Unfortunately picks by the Falcons (Matt Ryan), the Raiders (Darren McFadden) and the Chiefs (Glenn Dorsey) reduced the opportunities (And trading partners) available. Moving back to the Saints spot at No. 10 netted New England an extra third round pick, though they gave back their firfth round pick. It was good value for New England. Mayo's 40.5 inch vertical at his pro day was not only amazing for a linebacker it was over 8 inches more than he jumped at the NFL Combine. With 4.54 speed and a vertical to get in the passing lanes, Mayo appears to be the perfict fit for a Patriots highly demanding of its linebacker group. Theough the other inside linebacker, Keith Rivers went just one pick ahead of them, New England appears more than content to add the 140-tackle SEC leader to their roster.
Matthew Postins, editor of Bucsblitz.com, contributed to this report.
For insider news and analysis on dozens of prospects at each position, become a PatriotsInsider.com subscriber. This weekend, anyone who signs up for a month of PatriotsInsider.com access will get an incredible TWO MONTHS FREE! That's three months of our exclusive insider content for just $7.95! More details...
Sign up for the annual pass and get free magazine, the extra months and more! Click here to sign up for this special offer and select your desired plan.