USC's Taylor Mays Blazes Way to 4.43 40-Yard Dash
There may still be questions about his agility, but there are no concerns about his speed. Mays turned in an official 4.43 40-yard dash in his first of two runs at the scouting combine -- NFL Network initially timed Mays' run at 4.24, which would have tied Chris Johnson's 2008 combine time, the fastest since 2000.
Still, Mays' 40-yard dash ranked among the fastest 40-yard dashes seen at the combine this year and the fastest of his group, which is surprising considering that Mays is a safety who was running in a group with plenty of cornerbacks.
There has been talk that Mays may have to move to linebacker in the NFL because his lack of coverage skills were exposed at the Senior Bowl. He has straight-line speed but concerns about his flexibility and agility. But putting up a 40-yard dash time that is speedy for a cornerback or wideout will likely alleviate many of those concerns. At 6-foot-3, 231 pounds, Mays has the size to make the move to linebacker, and his initial burst would look very appealing as a linebacker coming off the edge as a pass rusher.
Thomas Davis, the Panthers first-round pick in 2005, had similar concerns when he was coming out of the University of Georgia. Like Mays he was a 230-pound safety with poor coverage skills, although Davis was a more productive college player than Mays.
But unlike Mays, Davis ran a solid but unspectacular 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine. He still was the 14th pick in that year's draft because of his athleticism and has turned into a solid if unspectacular linebacker. Mays' speed will likely get him a shot at safety at first (like Davis), and his fallback position as a linebacker conversion will be helped by the straight-line speed he showed at the combine.