Many believed the Cincinnati Bengals would be in the market for a safety in the opening round of the 2013 NFL Draft thanks to the lackluster play seen from that area of their defense a year ago. The team didn’t go that route which suggests that the incumbents on the depth chart will have one last chance to prove themselves as legitimate starters in the league. Taylor Mays, I’m talking to you.
The former second round pick out of USC began his career with the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t last long there, however, as he quickly fell out of favor with the coaching staff and was dealt to Cincy for a late round draft choice. His two years in stripes haven’t been much better with lapses in coverage and zero lasting positive memories to his name.
The career of Mays has already been labeled as a “bust” by some, but this season with the Bengals could be his chance to finally shed that tag. Cincy did bring in some competition in third round pick Shawn Williams, but Mays took the majority of the reps with the first team during OTAs which suggests he still tops the depth chart. Jeromy Miles is also on the depth chart, but he provides very little threat outside of his special teams prowess.
Obviously coverage is an area that Mays will have to show improvement on during training camp if he wants to hold off the rookie Williams and maintain his starting position. Most believe that Mays is a known commodity at this point in his career with very little upside to improve his pass defense, but he is quite familiar with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defense now entering his third year with the Bengals. That knowledge will allow things to process more quickly when diagnosing plays and hopefully give him a leg up when it comes to make a break on the football.
For now, Mays still tops the depth chart for the Bengals at strong safety. Camp promises to see a fierce competition between him and the rookie Williams, but something tells me the veteran will get one last chance to prove himself this season.