Last month, the Jets signed safety Jared Mayden to their practice squad. Today, we break down Mayden in detail.
The 24-year old Mayden is listed at 6’0” and 205 pounds and was undrafted out of Alabama. He has played in six regular season games at the NFL level, recording seven tackles.
Mayden was a four-star recruit out of high school and was recruited to Alabama, although he didn’t start until his senior year. Over his first two seasons, he played in 11 games and had five tackles, a pass defensed and a tackle for loss.
His role increased in his junior year as he played in every game had 17 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups.
In his senior year, Mayden started 11 of 12 games and racked up 59 tackles and three pass breakups. He also led the team with four interceptions.
Mayden was invited to the Senior Bowl, but was a combine snub. Many experts still expected him to be drafted but he ended up not getting selected in the 2020 draft.
Despite preseason being cancelled, Mayden made enough of an impression as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers to get signed to the practice squad immediately after final cuts. During the season, he was elevated twice for special teams duties and recorded one tackle.
He signed a futures deal with the 49ers again for the 2021 season but again was released and placed onto the practice squad. This time, though, the 49ers released him in October and he ended up with the Eagles. He played in four games with them down the stretch with 38 defensive snaps and six tackles.
He was back in camp with the Eagles this year, but got injured and released during preseason. After he spent three weeks on the Bills’ practice squad, the Jets added him to their practice squad a few weeks ago.
Now let’s take a look at what Mayden brings to the table, divided into categories.
Mayden was part of the 2020 class that didn’t get a chance to record workout numbers due to the pandemic, but he’s reportedly run a sub-4.4 in the past and was hoping to put up a similarly fast time at his pro day. He was clocked at 4.47 in 2019 at an Oklahoma camp, but his film shows someone with burst but perhaps lacking in range and long speed.
Mayden has good versatility, as he has been employed as a deep safety, brought up into the box and matched up both with tight ends and slot receivers.
Although he only played safety with Alabama, he did also learn the cornerback and spur (hybrid safety) roles within their defense.
Mayden put up some good coverage numbers in college, as he only gave up two touchdowns and no 30-yard plays. In his senior year, opposing quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 41.9 when throwing his way according to Pro Football Focus.
While he is versatile enough to cover both tight ends and slot receivers he can be stiff in his movements at times and sometimes his footwork is less than ideal when changing direction or coming out of his transitions.
At the safety position, he’s often employed deep in coverage support or required to latch on in downfield coverage, but there were times where he was late getting over.
His positional sense is good though and he is more effective when he can lean on or make contact with a receiver down the field.
Mayden never broke up more than three passes in a season at Alabama, but he led the team in interceptions in his senior year. He shows some closing speed and the ability to jump routes, although three of the four interceptions he had that year were easy plays after bad or deflected passes. He showed good concentration to come up with the catch here, though.
In preseason action with the 49ers, he came up with this interception, which he actually returned for a score but that didn’t count due to a holding penalty by his teammate during the runback.
Mayden has a reputation as a big hitter and has some spectacular plays on his highlight reel where he lit someone up or stopped them in their tracks. However, he has a habit of going in too high, which can often enable players to bounce off or break away from his hits.
In pursuit, he usually takes pretty good angles, although he can overpursue at times. He is also susceptible to cutbacks and missed a total of nine tackles in his senior year.
When he squares up his man and shows good technique, Mayden can be more effective and there were some signs he’d been working on that since getting into the NFL.
He often went for the strip at the NFL level, but has yet to force a fumble in college or in the NFL.
Mayden showed some abilities against the run in his senior year, although he ended his college career with just three tackles for loss. He does show willing to come up into the box and support the run.
When asked to come up into the box in run support, he can get blocked out of plays, particularly in short yardage situations.
Mayden is a player who shows some physicality in coverage, likes to hit and will take on blocks aggressively.
Here’s an example of him getting after it with an opponent while covering a kick on special teams.
He hasn’t had any penalties at the NFL level and didn’t have any in his senior year at Alabama either. However, he had four in his three seasons as a reserve.
While he had a couple of hurries in his senior year, Mayden’s only sack came on this all-out blitz in his junior year.
He didn’t blitz very often in college and hasn’t at all at the NFL level in preseason or regular season action.
Mayden was not a core special teamer at Alabama, although he did have two special teams tackles in his freshman year. He’s seen action on multiple units at the NFL level, though, including as a vice and gunner.
He’s had some modest success too, with a handful of tackles in kick coverage in both regular season and preseason action.
He did have a couple of missed tackles, though, and got blocked out of the play on a return that went for 75 yards.
Mayden shows some ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and react in center field and also can make good reads closer to the line of scrimmage.
From his film, there did seem to be a few moments where he momentarily lost focus or hesitated, leading to him being a beat late getting to his assignment.
Mayden was patient enough to wait for his opportunity and has showed determination to make it at the pro level. He is known for a good work ethic and never-give-up attitude. On the field he’s an energetic, aggressive and scrappy player.
He was ejected from a game for targeting during his junior season, causing him to miss most of the second half of that game and the first half of the next one. However, he otherwise has no character concerns.
Mayden was waived by the Eagles in August due to an ankle injury which is obviously all healed up now. While with the 49ers, he was on the practice squad injury list with a quad issue as well.
Although he was most recently with the Eagles and Bills, Mayden spent his first season and a half with the 49ers, who still had Robert Saleh, John Benton and Mike LaFleur on their coaching staff when he was picked up. Knowing the system therefore shouldn’t be an issue and he was obviously someone previously identified as a potential good fit in it.
Mayden played with Quinnen Williams at Alabama and has been a teammate of several current Jets: Jimmy Moreland, Nate Herbig, Laken Tomlinson, Solomon Thomas, Kwon Alexander, Marcell Harris and Craig James.
In the immediate future, Mayden could offer the team potential cover in the secondary or on special teams but the fact Saleh already worked with this player perhaps suggests they wanted to review his progress to see if he’s worth bringing to camp next season.
Although he was undrafted, he has made it onto a gameday roster several times in his first few seasons and many felt he was someone who could or should have been drafted. Daniel Jeremiah had him ranked 114th; one of only six players in his top 150 that weren’t selected, Mel Kiper had referred to him as a potential contributor and Mayden himself said that every team that met with him had told him he’d be drafted. He’d perhaps be viewed differently now if he had been.
While the chances of Mayden playing a role this year seem slim, it will be interesting to see how long he sticks around because he could be a potential sleeper to watch if he gets invited to training camp next season.