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The cost of Taylor Mays' senior year

There has been a lot of chatter on the boards about Taylor Mays not being picked by Pete Carroll let alone being picked at all in the first round of last nights opening act of the 2010 NFL Draft.

For the first time in few years a player from USC was not selected in the first round.

As I noted yesterday that really is not a surprise with the amount of USC players taken the past few drafts, sooner or later SC was bound to have a slow year. I don't have a problem with that. It happens...

The more intriguing question is did Taylor Mays do himself any favors by staying for his senior year. Mays was a guaranteed first round pick last year and many thought he would be a top 10 or top 15 player selected. Hard to know but IIRC there were not any safeties taken in the first round of last years draft.

Mays stayed for a number of reasons.

Aside from Pete Carroll urging him to stay in school like he does 99% of his players, Mays liked college life, he enjoyed the company of a certain someone special and his parents wanted him to graduate. Mays was not in a position of financial need. His parents are well off with very successful careers of their own so their urging of Mays to graduate was more important than leaving early for NFL riches.

Mays will make plenty of money in the NFL and if he gets the proper coaching he will should have a long and successful career.

But there is still a little something nagging me about this. Maybe its nothing but it is enough for me to bring it up.

Let me flip this around.

Lets put aside the reasons I mentioned as to why Mays stayed. Lets look at this from a pure football perspective. Pete Carroll has always urged his players except for Bush to finish their eligibility. The reasoning being that the more experience you get at the college level the better your chances for success in the NFL. It is not a perfect formula but it is also not without merit. It also depends on your definition of success...

So, when Pete Carroll had the opportunity to draft Mays in the first round he instead chose Earl Thomas, a safety from Texas, that was a redshirt sophomore. Thomas is a player that can play both safety and the cornerback spot but a player none the less who didn't maximize his eligibility by leaving early. Based on production Thomas is a better safety than Mays but Mays was asked to much more than Thomas in shepherding a less experienced secondary than what USC had in 2008.

Needless to say many raised an eyebrow at that development.

For the sake of discussion I am going to take a contrarian point of view here that will not be popular.

As a coach that specializes in the secondary what does it say that Mays didn't develop better under Pete Carroll's tutelage in order to be that first round pick for the Seahawks last night? Mays has been quoted as saying that he played exactly how he was told to play. He was told to make big hits, he was told to play far off the ball in order to not give up the big play yet as I mentioned yesterday Mays playing center field did not prevent Golden Tate from the making a big play against USC last season and there were times when Mays woefully out of position and when he was in position his tackling technique was at times suspect.

I am not breaking any new ground here...we all saw the games.

There is no question that Taylor Mays is a freak of nature, he has some special gifts. But it is also fair to ask how he was developed. Did Pete Carroll maximize Mays' gifts so that it would not only benefit the team but also benefit Mays going forward? Some of this could be on Mays too...did he listen to Pete? I don't know, I am just throwing it out there.

There are some who say that it is not the colleges coaches job to prepare the player for the NFL. That's true, but Pete Carroll built his era at USC specifically using that rationale. We saw how Pete Carroll lost his cool over Mark Sanchez leaving early...a move that proved to be the right move, yet he got his way with Mays and in some peoples eyes he didn't finish the job. I will admit that some of it was out of PC's hands. When Shareece Wright decided to to take a pass on going to class leaving him academically ineligible, it forced Carroll to move Mays to Free Safety but even with that move could Mays have been developed better?

That might also show the value of former DC and DB coach Rocky Seto...wasn't that his unit?

I find it a bit hypocritical that PC urges his players to stay all 4 years and then picks a player who didn't. Said player might be better but when one of the players available is your guy, who you recruited and were supposed to develop I makes me scratch my head.

I get it..the NFL is a business. You can't let your heart strings get pulled but if Carroll developed Mays better this might have been a no brainer.

In the end everything happens for a reason...It is probably a good thing for Mays. I would not be surprised if this got his competitive juices flowing. It would probably be a good thing for Mays to get coached up by someone different, someone who can maximize his special gifts and make some GM else where kick themselves for taking him in the first round.

I obviously don't know the answers here...but I did want to throw it out there.

Feel free to discuss...