Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee
Round 1, Pick 10
The Patriots traded down from the number seven spot to select Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo. While many questioned the pick, I was enthralled with it from the get-go.
At 6-1, 242 lbs, Mayo has a very thick, well-built frame (look at some of the photos from when he was introduced to the Patriots). Excluding size, the first thing that stands out to me about Mayo is his smarts. Mayo is just a knowledgable player. He works extra hard in the film room, and he reads and reacts to plays very well, all important traits for a 3-4 inside linebacker. When defending the run, Mayo isn’t the best bull-tackler, but is a very good open-field tackler. He can read plays well, and has great acceleration to get to the ball carrier. He is also very good in pass protection. Mayo posseses fluid hips, speed, and acceleration. His insane speed allows him to stick with any tight end and most receivers.
Although Mayo has a lot of strengths, there are some parts of his game that he needs to polish in order to excel at the next level. These concerns include bull-rushing, taking double teams, and shedding blockers, the latter of the two have to do with his hand usage. If Mayo can perfect his hand usage (an area where he has improved), then he will be able to rush up the middle better, take and shed hits, as well as double teams.
Overall, Jerod Mayo seems like a great fit for the Patriots. I would expect him to come in and compete with Junior Seau / Victor Hobson for a starting job on the inside immediately. Regardless of that outcome, Mayo will certainly get playing time on third downs. Some people argue that Mayo was a reach at 10. In fact, a lot of people argue that point. However, I believe that if Mayo returned for his senior year, he would have become a top five pick. And whether or not Mayo comes in and starts immediately, Mayo will be a starter in this system as well as an eventual Pro Bowler for years to come.