Previously: Last year's profiles. S Sammy Faustin, S German Green, CB Gemon Green, CB Vincent Gray, CB Myles "Spider" Sims, LB Cameron McGrone, DE Taylor Upshaw, DE Julius Welschof, DE Aidan Hutchinson.
|Grand Rapids, MI — 6'5", 273|
|24/7||4*, #126 overall
#9 OT, #2 MI
|Rivals||4*, 5.8 rating
#17 OT, #4 MI
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#72 OT, #17 MI
|Composite||4*, #268 overall
#16 OT, #4 MI
|Other Suitors||ND, MSU, Neb, Iowa, Minn|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Future Blue Originals and Derivatives from Dave and Adam.|
|Notes||Twitter. Army game. Minnesota decommit.|
The theme of this year's recruiting profiles is "what happened to recruiting?!" and few players in the class are a better exemplar of this than Jalen Mayfield. Mayfield was a wee offensive lineman indeed when he committed to Minnesota super early, whereupon he got the kind of ratings a 250 pound kid committed to the Gophers does. Then he got bigger, hit some camps, and started drawing more serious attention. The way the three remaining major recruiting sites reacted is emblematic of the new State of The Recruiting Industry.
ESPN did nothing, because they fired all their people. He remains in MAC territory in their ranking system and has no scouting at all.
Rivals got defensive and spent much of the recruiting cycle with Mayfield rated even lower than ESPN did. Even after Mayfield committed to Michigan, an event that should precipitate some rethinking, Rivals doubled down on their initial assessment with handwaving from the regional analyst. This was somewhat huffily documented in this space last June:
Rivals's rankings of instate OL Ryan Hayes and Jalen Mayfield are two of the biggest outliers of the cycle so far. Both are composite four stars despite Rivals ranking them 16th and 19th in the state, behind a 5'8" King DB headed to Iowa State amongst others. ... Rivals currently ranks both instate Michigan OL commitments behind OL headed to Wake Forest, Duke, BC, and Kansas. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But because Rivals still exists, unlike ESPN, they were able to correct course after seeing him at the Army game and give him the solid-ish four star rating you see above. Yes, they had a guy headed to the Army game rated as barely a P5 prospect. Yes, it took them the whole cycle to correct this, and the regional analyst was apparently overruled:
Q: Michigan only signed two offensive linemen and they're both from Michigan. What do you think about the duo?
A: ...I’ll be interested to see how they pan out. I don’t think that we had them as highly valued as Michigan did or as other places did. We’ll have an interesting look back in four to five years and see who was closer to being accurate with that.
No, no reasoning was offered by the regional analyst. Yes, this is a familiar storyline.
24/7 took the spate of bigger offers Mayfield got as a cue to observe more closely and more or less immediately flung him into their top 100.
[Mayfield's] ranking skyrocketed to 106th overall in the country after 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons and Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong watched him live at the Nike event in Chicago. After a rerun through his junior film, 247Sports doubled down on Mayfield, moving him up to 86th overall in the country and first in the state of Michigan in the 2018 cycle.
After, Mayfield had one of those characteristic slow slides that any highly rated prospect whose evaluation doesn't change suffers as more guys burst onto the scene. Despite the slight drop, 24/7stood pat on their assessment of Mayfield as a top ten OT prospect in the class.
[After THE JUMP: mean, fast, and burgeoning]
This is because Mayfield promises to be an excellent all-around left tackle despite lacking the inch or two that would put him at an ideal height. 24/7s initial reassessment was all about projecting him to a large but nimble finished product. Barton Simmons:
"...a guy who already possesses a lot of the tools you can't teach. He's long and extremely athletic for his size. Then you turn on his film and you're seeing a guy who is beating the hell out of the guy across the line from him on a consistent basis. Those are really three of the bigger things you look for in a high school offensive lineman; he has them in spades. ...has the potential to develop into a first round pick down the line."
...frame is about as perfect as you're going to find as far as a high-ceiling offensive tackle. He's gained some weight in the last month or so, but it doesn't look like it because he's still a stout dude despite looking like a big-style athlete more than an offensive tackle ... athleticism is immediately evident in his first step. ...frame is probably about as close to textbook as I've seen since I started doing this. He's athletic, long and most importantly is already pretty stout despite being 18-20 pounds lighter than he will be when he plays his college ball.
Allen Trieu, who saw him repeatedly because Mayfield is in his backyard:
...having a really strong season. ... the first thing that usually comes up is the meanness he plays with. That is still there. However, if I had to rate his best qualities, I think his athleticism/flexibility and ability to get to different spots on the field to make blocks would be right there. He can really bend, he can pull... probably around 270 and the chance that he plays earlier in his career is much higher in my opinion.
His high school coach:
“[Mayfield’s] intelligence is his best attribute, but his athleticism is right up there, and that’s what’s impressed all these college coaches,” Kolster said. “He’s a big kid, but he’s not even close to what he’s going to be. He’s 270 and the guy looks like he’s 225. Jalen’s gained almost 30 pounds from last winter, and he’s gaining weight in the right way.”
Mayfield’s not a prototypical tackle, but he is a prototypical Greg Frey tackle. The first thing that stands out on film is how athletic he is. He's quick and so is his footwork; it also happens to be technically sound. His slide step in pass protection is excellent, as is his foot placement when drive or down blocking. His pass protection is a byproduct of his ability to reset his base quickly and it’s really well developed. He’s a far better pass protector than run blocker, something we’re not used to seeing at this level.
Evaluations continued largely in that vein. He was the Alpha Dog at Best of the Midwest last year because of his "elite athleticism and balance." His OL coach at the Army game said he's "a big guy but a phenomenal athlete"; opposing high school coach Mark Chapman was "most impressed with how well he moved" because "his feet are so good he can get to the second level."
There were a couple of less enthused takes from Mayfield senior season; when Lorenz caught him in person he thought he "wasn't finishing like he did on the bulk of his junior film" and had a "good, not great" outing; Adam's in-person viewing was a mixed bag with various Areas for Improvement. These do slow the hype train somewhat.
Rivals's initial, and apparently ongoing, skepticism less so. For one, when Brandon Brown did his in-person scout he came away with an impression on the more optimistic end of the scale:
...athleticism jumped out immediately ... way he runs, jumps and moves at his size is very unnatural and really makes him look like a future star. He's extremely light on his feet, overly agile and very speedy for someone playing on the offensive line.
He was able to pull from his tackle spot with ease and really shined when running down the field out in front of perimeter plays. His pass blocking is pretty solid as well. He wasn't really challenged by anyone on the other team but his fundamentals and overall technique looked better than decent. ... Now that Mayfield has bulked up and is around 275 pounds, there aren't really any knocks on him.
For two, the main issue holding his rankings back was in the "Khaleke Hudson is too short" vein. Large man not large enough, but then got larger:
“Probably the most important takeaway from seeing Mayfield both on senior film and at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is that he is adding good weight to his frame without sacrificing athleticism. That was a big concern when the Michigan signee weighed 250 pounds, but he's doing the same things athletically now he was doing then, while playing with better strength.” – Josh Helmholdt, Midwest Recruiting Analyst
Mayfield's high school coach anticipated this:
"His only weakness right now as a player is physical strength," Kolster said. "If that is a guy’s only weakness, that’s an easy correction. It’s tough to say that a player isn’t overly athletic or he’s not real mean or he doesn’t like to finish or he’s not competitive. If you start saying those types of things do you really want that guy?
"I think Jalen could be 275-285 before he gets to campus and he’ll get up above that once there but because of his athleticism he can get in front and block anything. Now, point-of-attack strength, that’s what he has to improve."
24/7's analysis of the 2018 draft's OL crop and what it means for rankings is only good news for Mayfield:
Takeaway No. 1: Heavier isn’t better
...stark disparity in the average weights of the undrafted guys and the players picked within the first 100 selections. The average high school weight of those 20 plum selections was 284 pounds. The average weight of the nine undrafted top-100 recruits was 25 pounds heavier, at 309 pounds.
Takeaway No. 2: Athleticism indicators are everything
...We have high school testing numbers on six of the first 100 selections. The average 40 time was 5.24, shuttle was 4.77 and vertical was 27.1. The average numbers for the three undrafted prospects that we have data on were 5.7, 5.13 and 23.6, respectively. There’s also the multisport background that gives valuable insight.
Mayfield, who played basketball for most of his high school years, fits the mold here: an athlete to slap pounds on. His coach again:
"Jalen has been playing AAU basketball in the spring, summer and then during the actual season so he’s been doing a lot of things. He’s been working out for football in the mornings, then working out with AAU basketball and playing basketball almost year round — how can the kid gain weight and strength? It’s been almost impossible. Moving forward it’s going to be scary how much bigger and stronger he can get when it’s all football all the time."
So the main issue with Mayfield's ranking is actually correlated with getting drafted. The above and 24/7's extensive scouting from a few different people with their hand in the rankings makes me believe that their take is going to be the accurate one. Especially if Mayfield's self-reported 6'6" 290 from last month is accurate. If only the phonebooks still came in.
Etc.: FWIW, coach quote about intelligence is nice to have:
“I think his understanding and his mental capacity,” Kolster said. “I also think his confidence level and his understanding of not only what we’re trying to do, but understanding of the game. I think he’s an unbelievable and intelligent player. Moving forward, I think that is going to be a huge strength of his.”
Good MLive profile.
Why Taylor Lewan? Lewan has a couple inches on Mayfield and was thus a surer bet to be a top-flight college player and eventual NFL cornerstone, but if the guys who pay the closest attention are asserting he's got a near-perfect frame and first-round upside that's good enough for me.
Mayfield's recruitment is also a mirror image of Lewan's. Both are the sort of OL who suddenly appear on the scene once they get enough weight to not get ragdolled by everyone; both have great frames that they need to fill out to cope in college. Both ended up shooting up recruiting rankings and topped out short of the top 100 largely because of their need to add weight.
Mason Cole is another, lower-ceiling comparable. Both are highly mobile tackles that are around 6'5". Cole was a better fit at center long-term and always had pass protection struggles on the outside.
Guru Reliability: Nil, moderate, and very high for ESPN, Rivals, and 24/7 respectively.
Variance: Low-ish. He's an OL so there's no such thing as "low" but if he's already at 275 there's not much else to question. His lack of weight is easily explained by his basketball career and once he started focusing on his college future he shot up immediately. Everything else is there.
Ceiling: High. Height probably limits him a little and may prevent him from being a top-shelf pass protector. Other than that we're good.
General Excitement Level: High. The other thing here: Greg Frey knows what he's doing. Maybe he doesn't know how to work with Tim Drevno but the dude can pick out the right dudes to beef up.
Projection: OL, redshirt. In Mayfield's case he does need to add 20 pounds before anyone can think about using him as anything other than the jumbo TE Harbaugh likes.
The uncertainty at tackle this year lends uncertainty down the road. If Juwann Bushell-Beatty holds onto the job for the duration of the year Mayfield will have a shot at replacing him, albeit in a crowded field of contenders. If one of the redshirt freshman pushes through and grabs the job Mayfield will have to wait. Jon Runyan may be vulnerable at right tackle, too.
A more realistic timeframe is probably 2020, when Mayfield will undoubtedly be college-sized and three starting jobs open up if Runyan hangs on. I'd make him a favorite for one of those jobs.