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2017 NFL Draft: Potential Panther? Marcus Maye, S, Florida

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If the Panthers decide against taking a safety with the eighth overall pick, Florida Safety Marcus Maye would make a good consolation prize.

NCAA Football: Florida Spring Game Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Maye, S, Florida

Bio

Maye came to Gainesville as the #5 HS safety in the country. Maye got two starts in 2013, followed by nine in 2014. He finished with 78 tackles and had two interceptions as a sophomore. Maye totaled 82 tackles, six pass breakups and two interceptions in 2015. Maye's five forced fumbles tied for tops in the SEC in 2015.

Maye suffered a broken arm in week nine, against South Carolina, missing the rest of the season. Unfortunately, that meant missing games against LSU, Florida State, Alabama (SEC Championship Game), and Iowa (Outback Bowl).

Going into the game, Maye had 49 tackles, a team-leading 28 solo tackles, one interception and one sack.

Last season, USA Today and Pro Football Focus named him a first-team All-American.

Looking at his resume, a case could be made for him to be a top-50 pick, but the injury could cause him to slide.

What others are saying

Going into the 2016 season, Rob Rang of CBS Sports calls Maye a "true three-down defender". Rang writes Maye "is a highly aggressive defender who trusts his eyes and is not afraid to attack upfield as an enforcer in the running game...He is a controlled, yet physical hitter who breaks down well, providing the excellent open-field tackling skills required as the last line of defense." Rangs calls Maye's ability to produce turnovers (11 turnovers created in just 21 career starts going into his senior season) his "calling card" but cautions that he can be overaggressive sometimes, "grabbing facemasks and jerseys", and warns that he will occasionally over-pursue and drops his primary assignment while looking for the big play.

Both Vernon Hargreaves and Neal jumped early for the draft, and were rewarded with first round selections, however going into 2016, some felt Maye and Teez Tabor may be better.

Maybe it's out of sight, out of mind, but there has been little talk of Maye.

Currently (Jan 16th) CBS Sports grades him as a 3rd/4th rounder, and just their 114th player overall. Meanwhile, DraftAnalyst.com's Tony Pauline ranked Maye as just his tenth ranked safety, giving him a third round grade. Matt Miller ranked him as his number nine safety and 84th overall player.

ESPN's Mel Kiper is still a believer. He recently ranked Maye as his number five safety.

The Film (from my Week Four Risers)

Maye finished with eight tackles, but had a mixed game against Tennessee. Early in the first quarter, Maye had a pass break-up on a fourth-and-goal. However in the fourth quarter, Maye made a poor play as he took some false steps and took a bad angle on a receiver crossing the field and that let him get the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown.

Unfortunately, Draftbreakdown does not have this game, but One Hour Football does. Start watching at the 15:26 mark, for the good. Then at 59:35, for the bad.

In a loss to Arkansas, Maye continued play hot and cold. He missed a few tackles and was called for pass-interference, but also made a few plays, including a tackle for loss.

Conclusion

Going into 2015, I had not been very impressed with the Gators' safety duo of Maye and Keanu Neal, as the pair looked inconsistent as sophomores. When looking at their film, you saw turnovers and big hits, but there are also a ton of blown coverages.

As a red-shirt senior, Maye appeared to be the complete package. He combines prototypical size and athleticism with improved instincts. He is physical near the line of scrimmage, has shown solid skills in coverage, and flashed a knack for creating turnovers.

Listed at 6'0/207, Maye can play FS, SS, and nickel in certain situations. He can be trusted as a single-high or near the line of scrimmage.

I think the depth of the 2017 safety class, and the perceived upside of some of the younger prospects will push Maye down, but NOT as far as many currently believe. I think a selection between picks 50-70 feels about right, making him a great value pick if he were to slide to the Panthers' third-round pick.

If the Panthers decide against taking a safety with the eighth pick (doing so would seem out of character for Gettleman), I feel Maye would make a good consolation prize.

What are your thoughts?