Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:
The move to linebacker proved highly successful from a pass-rushing aspect, but still left questions about the conversion being permanent, as Lorenzo Mauldin seems to lack the range needed to give chase along the sidelines. There are also two things that make scouts a bit cautious when it comes to this Cardinals standout – he’s had a rash of injury issues continue in 2014, as he suffered a hamstring pull that forced him to leave the Florida State game and sit out vs. Boston College.
Another concern is that he’s playing a position that Marcus Smith occupied last year and Smith has proven to be one of the bigger busts in the 2014 draft class, as he’s seen little action while healthy for Philadelphia this year. The weak-side outside linebacker recorded 51 tackles, adding 6.5 sacks and 13 stops-for-loss while causing three fumbles and posting 11 QB pressures this season.
He’s excelled playing inside the box, but he’s been quite slow reacting to the pass and later in the year, he was taken out when the opposition went to the long aerial attack. Still, the move was necessary, for at 243 pounds, he was really nothing more than a situational pass rusher, where NFL scouts were concerned, if he had remained on the defensive line.
He was limited at mid-season with a right leg injury in 2013, and had a scary moped accident in 2012, but still recorded 40 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 12.0 stops-for-loss and three forced fumbles last year. His surgery, on the glenoid labrum in his shoulder during the 2014 offseason kept him out of spring practice.
At 243 pounds, he lacked ideal size and scouts felt that he was close to maximum growth potential on his frame. Now, teams might consider moving him back to the front wall after he showed up with a soft 259-pound frame at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine and had one of the worst performances in the agility tests within his position group.
However, Mauldin has good lower body muscle definition to generate a strong base and a big bubble. He is a disruptive force in the backfield, thanks to his consistency and ability to explode past blockers when he stays low in his pads and comes off the snap with good urgency. He has good instincts and awareness to locate the ball and knows where the quarterback is. He flows to the ball well in backside pursuit and has the sustained speed to attack ball carriers along the perimeter.
Mauldin reminds scouts of Shaun Phillips during his prime days with the Chargers, as he has skills and balance as an edge rusher. He is slippery moving past lethargic offensive tackles playing off the perimeter. He also generates good “numbers” working in-line, as he flashes very quick hands and strong inside moves to get through the gaps and impact the pocket. He is good at anticipating the quarterback’s moves and excels when “dogging” inside.
Once he gets into the backfield, it appears as if he gets quicker, doing a nice job of flushing out and chasing down the quarterback. He flashes enough hand usage to shoot the inside gaps, and has a nice array of moves to get an outside shoulder on a pass blocker. With his ball anticipation and short area explosiveness on the blitz (15 chase-downs and 11 pressures in 2014) he has more than enough ability to flush and chase the quarterback down.
Mauldin lacks fluid hip flexibility and sudden movement coming off the snap, and while he has valid strength, he does not show good knee bend or pad level when having to chase long distances, or when asked to drop back in pass coverage. He is just not quick enough to handle receivers on deep routes. In the second level, he is effective using his strong hands to reroute/jam tight ends, backs and slot receivers working underneath, but if an opponent gets behind him, he lacks the recovery quickness.
He has very good stack and shed ability. He is strong with his hands, especially when working inside, using a powerful club move and arm-over action to get past blocks. He can be even better when he uses his natural leverage. When he plays high, he will get tied up a bit trying to disengage, but stays on his feet working near the pile. His size issue as a down lineman comes into play when he fails to protect his body working in trash, as he can be washed out of the play by double teams when he leaves his body too exposed.
Mauldin can cover most tight ends and backs in the short area, but when he plays high, his change of direction stiffness shows. He is marginal in man coverage and tends to get up on his heels in his backpedal. In the short area, he can stay on the hip of the receiver, but needs to show a better burst to recover from gathering coming out of transition (more of a trailer type outside the box).
The linebacker does keep his head on a swivel while sinking, but only gets adequate depth in his pass drops due to being on his heels and standing too high in his pedal. When he stays low in his pads during his pass drops, he can be an effective zone player. He is best when his drops are inside and in the short area. He has just adequate speed to cover ground when the pass is thrown, but lacks even decent range and he needs to be quicker in his reads and not so tight in his turn.
Lorenzo Mauldin Scouting Combine measurables
6-4/259 (4.85 forty)
33-inch arm length
9 7/8-inch hands
32-inch vertical jump
112-inch broad jump
7.47 3 cone drill
4.58 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS
Position: QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS