Jalen Mayfield projects as a quality starting offensive lineman at the NFL level. He’s got ample size and functional athleticism to play in space in pass protection and with just two years of starting experience under his belt, Mayfield is only going to continue to get better with more repetitions. Mayfield showed impressive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 after facing a murderer’s row of pass rushes in his first season as a starter in 2019, having to block top-50 picks Yetur Gross-Matos and Chase Young while also having to handle other prominent pass rushers such as Anfernee Jennings, Jayson Oweh, Shaka Toney, Terrell Lewis, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and others. Mayfield endured a baptism by fire as a college starter but the physical tools and raw athleticism were undeniable. Complicating Mayfield’s 2021 projection is an even smaller sample size than the abbreviated 2020 Big Ten season—Mayfield played in just two games this season and will enter the pros with 15 starts under his belt at Michigan. But Mayfield was dominant and looked like a much more refined prospect in 2020; so much so that I’m pushing my chips into the table on this one. I think Mayfield is a quality right tackle prospect who could be trained to switch sides and play on the left or, alternatively, be left to continue to grow on the right side. His athletic profile (despite poor athletic testing, although that is a red flag) and build wouldn’t hinder him from a transition to guard either—in case his small sample size of strong play isn’t sustainable and he struggles at the NFL level on the outside. Given his physical skills and the multiple avenues to get on the field, I’m betting Mayfield ends up a hit in the pros.
Ideal Role: Starting offensive tackle (could play either side, high-ceiling OG, as well).
Scheme Fit: Scheme diverse talent.
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Notre Dame (2019), Iowa (2019), Penn State (2019), Ohio State (2019), Alabama (2019), Minnesota (2020), Michigan State (2020)
Best Game Studied: Michigan State (2020)
Worst Game Studied: Ohio State (2019)
Balance: Mayfield is a very good mover and carries his frame with grace and agility—there’s going to be plenty of reps that flash at you in both short spaces and when climbing to the second level or working out to the perimeter. Foot speed really aids his ability to play with suddenness and fluidity and regardless of what area and direction he’s attacking, he’ll likely be the most natural mover on the line in doing so. The lapses here in 2019 stemmed from a feel of spacing, not necessarily any physical restrictions; but he looked much more consistent in two games in 2020.
Pass Sets: There was little choice but to grow up in a hurry here when you consider the slate of teams and pass rushers he’s tackled in his 15 career starts. Mayfield offers the ability to set short with quickness or get vertical with ease. He’s still ironing out and perfecting his angles out of his stance to drive and widen corners for outside rushers with consistency but his base is really strong and if he does have lapses, he’ll flip his hips clean and ride rushers out past the peak of the pocket.
Competitive Toughness: This is an explosive athlete and he’s capable of generating a ton of force in short spaces—a physically imposing presence that pairs power with quickness and can overwhelm blockers if he’s got a built in angle at the snap. Relentless push up the field to wash out space for his ball carriers to press the LOS and he’s capable of absorbing power rushes effectively as well. The sample size of 2020 illustrated a player with a firm base, powerful hands, and effective control to impose his will.
Lateral Mobility: You want to pull him out on GT sweep? He can do that. You want him to run backside cutoff on wide/outside zone? He can do that. You want him to drive inside and pick up a late-developing stunt? He can do that. You want him to step down on pin and pull? He can do that, too. Athletically speaking, he’s so gifted for his stature and makes it look easy to redirect 320 pounds. As he continues to refine his feet, he’ll be even more effective in short-space agility.
Length: Mayfield will meet NFL thresholds for length at offensive tackle without an issue. He’s not the longest tackle we’ve seen pass through the process, but his wingspan, when paired with the movement skills he can provide, will offer plenty of influence to string out rushers on the edge. He does offer effective power in his hands and upper body and does well to manipulate defenders at extension, torquing or pressing them out of a gap.
Football IQ: He’s still green and that’s the scary part of all of this. He did appear to take a big step forward in 2020 after feeling his way through the 2019 campaign and improving throughout the course of the season. He’s not immune from an errant punch or a misframed set on the edge, but when you extrapolate his traits and consider the improvement he’s already shown with how much more he can improve with added experience, it is easy to get excited about the projection and the forecast.
Hand Technique: This was the big area I was interested in seeing this season and his two games appeared clean in this regard. He offers a ton of punch power and kept things inside the strike zone with consistency and furthermore did well to manipulate defenders after setting the hands and sustaining his blocks.
Anchor Ability: Hinge through the hips will allow Mayfield to sit down on power rushes and his balance and foot quickness should afford him the chance to “snap” back into a firm base if he’s caught untethered at first contact. His strike timing will make rolling through his pads even more challenging as he becomes savvier and experienced in hand usage and keeping rushers guessing with his stun punch.
Power at P.O.A.: He's capable of washing down the entirety of the line when stepping down on a double before climbing to backers. He’s quite dynamic here and his vertical releases will reset the line of scrimmage nearly every time. He’s a mauler against smaller defenders, too—he’ll take advantage of opportunities to discard and ride a defender to the ground. Mayfield illustrates a tenacious finishing mentality and brings the feet through contact methodically.
Versatility: I think he’s capable of playing either side of the line of scrimmage, you could cross-train him into playing left tackle and he’ll have the physical ability to do that at a high level, too. I also think teams that may be set at tackle but want to improve their line play could make use of him at guard and he’d be even more dominant there—he’s a clean puller who has good pad level and leverage and his ability to play in space or climb to the B-level would be even further amplified inside.
Prospect Comparison: Josh Jones (2020 NFL Draft, Arizona Cardinals)
TDN Consensus: 81.63 / 100
Kyle Crabbs: 82.00/100
Joe Marino: 79.50/100
Jordan Reid: 82.00/100
Drae Harris: 84.00/100
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022