Although the Cincinnati Bengals defense did play well last season, there was a glaring weakness at one position, strong safety. It seemed, to Bengals fans at least, that a mistake by starting strong safety Chris Crocker last season was something they could rely on game in and game out. Fans became frustrated and cried out for a change to be made, the only problem was that the Bengals other options weren’t much better than Crocker. Now while Crocker did get a lot of heat for his play, many fans did not realize that Crocker actually played quite well in pass rushing situations, and did have a few bright spots during the course of the season. Still, though fans were calling for a change at the SS position and now, after a full off-season to scout their other options, the Bengals are leaning towards making a change at SS.
Taylor Mays, the SS formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, and signed by the Bengals during the shortened 2011 off-season, is in a prime position to take over the starting SS duties for the 2012-2013 season. Mays, who was a second round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, has taken all the first team snaps during the Bengals OTAs, and looks to be favored right now. But while many people are stating that Mays will end up being the starting SS, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is not quite ready to name a favorite yet. When asked who is the favorite right now Lewis stated, “I don’t think there’s a clear cut leader right now”.
Mays could be a good option at the SS position seeing how he is big, (6-3, 230 pounds), and physical, something that Crocker, (just 5-11, 202 pounds), is not. Mays, who was a star at the University of Southern California, was widely thought to be a surprise candidate coming out of college. But while with the 49ers, and under the tutelage of Mike Singletary, Mays never fully developed into the player that many thought he could be. Putting Mays into the starting lineup, under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, might just be what he needs.
Mays certainly possesses the talent to become a legitimate starter in the NFL, and there is no reason to see why he can’t do just that. As far as I know Mays has never been in any sort of legal trouble while in the NFL, and the only reason Mays was put on the trading block was because the 49ers new staff, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his team, weren’t too high on Mays. There’s only two things I could gather from Harbaugh not wanting Mays around, first is that maybe Mays is a problem in the locker room, Harbaugh is known to be a no nonsense type of coach so this would make sense. The second is, maybe Mays just isn’t that good after all and Harbaugh knew it so he wanted him out. Either way, the Bengals will never know what type of player they have in Mays if they do not allow him a fair shot to start, and show what he has.