The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at an offensive tackle in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current offensive line depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but after players like Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater, there are a lot of talented tackles who could be available to the Steelers at pick No. 24.
There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a tackle to bolster their offensive line depth in 2021, and if Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield is available when the Steelers pick, is he an option as a first round talent?
I did some digging on Mayfield, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Mayfield. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Mayfield in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jalen Mayfield projects as a high-quality starting offensive lineman at the NFL level. He’s got ample size and athleticism to play in space in pass protection and with just two years of starting experience under his belt, Mayfield is only going to continue to get better with more repetitions. Mayfield showed impressive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 after facing a murderer’s row of pass rushes in his first season as a starter in 2019, having to block top-50 picks Yetur Gross-Matos and Chase Young while also having to handle other prominent pass rushers such as Anfernee Jennings, Jayson Oweh, Shaka Toney, Terrell Lewis, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and others. Mayfield endured a baptism by fire as a college starter but the physical tools and raw athleticism were undeniable. Complicating Mayfield’s 2021 projection is an even smaller sample size than the abbreviated 2020 Big Ten season—Mayfield played in just two games this season and will enter the pros with 15 starts under his belt at Michigan. But Mayfield was dominant and looked like a much more refined prospect in 2020; so much so that I’m pushing my chips into the table on this one. I think Mayfield is a high-level right tackle prospect who could be trained to switch sides and play on the left or, alternatively, be left to continue to grow on the right side. His athletic profile and build wouldn’t hinder him from a transition to guard either—in case his small sample size of strong play isn’t sustainable and he struggles at the NFL level on the outside. Given his physical skills and the multiple avenues to get on the field, I’m betting Mayfield ends up a big hit in the pros.
Ideal Role: Starting offensive tackle (could play either side, high-ceiling OG, as well).
Scheme Fit: Scheme transcendent talent.
Reliable pass protector
Has quick enough feet
Can bend at the knee
Agile to wall off speed rushers
Can kick slide to block speed rushers
Anchors against bull rushes
Shows recoverability against bull rushes
Quality run blocker
Contributes in the ground game
Can manipulate and tie up defenders as a run blocker
Fighter; physical demeanor
Quick out of his stance
Not an elite athlete
Lacks elite speed
Can lunge after defenders
Gets in trouble when his weight gets over his toes
Will give up ground to the bull rush
Not overpowering as a run blocker
Less than ideal speed for a left tackle
Less than ideal feet for a left tackle
Less than ideal athleticism for a left tackle
Might be limited to right tackle or guard in the NFL
Could have problems with elite NFL rushers
Summary: Jalen Mayfield was perhaps the only offensive lineman who could slow down Chase Young in 2019 during his dominant campaign of 16.5 sacks. In plenty of one-on-one matchups, Mayfield got the better of Young, and there were other plays where Young had Mayfield on the ropes but the young Wolverine was able to recover in time to keep Young from making his typical game-changing plays. It was a breakout performance for the Wolverines right tackle to conclude the regular season.
After being a backup as a true freshman, Mayfield showed improvement throughout his sophomore year, as he played better against Young and Ohio State than he did in earlier games, like against Penn State for example. It was an impressive debut for Mayfield, and Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh was bullish about Mayfield being even better in 2020. As a junior, Mayfield played well, but also missed time with injuries, and given the shortened season, he did not have much of an opportunity to build on his 2019 season. After the season, Mayfield showed a lack of judgement, or ignorance, or willingness to do due diligence when he signed with the agency that protected sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.
Mayfield has the skill set to be a starter at the NFL thanks to having quality size, athleticism and quickness. In pass protection, he has enough quickness and athleticism on the edge to neutralize speed rushers. While he is not an elite athlete or especially fast, Mayfield is quick out of his stance and gets in position to wall off defenders. When taking on bull rushes, Mayfield gives up a little ground, but then is able to anchor with enough lower body strength to keep himself from getting pushed into the quarterback. Mayfield uses solid technique to get good depth in his drop and is able to play the typewriter with his feet to mirror speed rushers. Mayfield possesses quality feet, and while they’re not elite, they’re above average.
There are aspects of Mayfield’s game that need improvement, and he should improve his technique for taking on NFL defensive linemen. At times, Mayfield lunges after defenders, and he can get his weight too far over his toes. That leads to him missing some blocks in space especially. There are also times when he gives up up ground in bull rushes. He gets too wide with his hands as well, which allows defenders to get into his chest to rock him back. While Mayfield has some flaws that lead to him giving up ground, he shows nice recoverability and an ability to re-engage defenders before a rush becomes catastrophic.
In the ground game, Mayfield is a solid contributor at the point of attack. He is not an overpowering road grader like Brandon Scherff was coming out of Iowa, and Mayfield is not as good of a run blocker as Andrew Thomas was at Georgia or Jedrick Wills at Alabama, but Mayfield is dependable to execute his assignment. He has the strength to control, turn and manipulate defenders at the point of attack. Mayfield is able to hit blocks on the second level and able to kick out to the perimeter. With his fighting temperament, Mayfield blocks through the whistle and sustains his blocks. He should be a solid run blocker in the NFL.
Mayfield could use refinement for the next level, but has the ability to become a starter. Mayfield has a shot at sneaking into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he and looks safe to go on day two if he is not selected on the opening night.
Player Comparison: Taylor Moton. For the NFL, Mayfield reminds me of Moton. Both are athletic right tackles who have enough quickness and athleticism to match up against speed rushers yet possess the strength to anchor. They both are solid run blockers as well. Mayfield was a second-round pick in 2017 out of Western Michigan, and Mayfield could be a second-round or late first-rounder in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield is a very good athlete at the tackle position and also has the skills and size necessary to move inside to guard if needed. He’s a terrific run blocker who moves well in space, climbs to the second level of the defense with ease and drives defenders out of the equation. Mayfield is comfortable pulling and lead-blocking and has a good understanding of gaps and assignments. His football IQ is high.
Unlike many other prospects, speed rushers aren’t much of an issue for Mayfield. He can handle speed moves due to his quick reaction time and plus lateral agility and overall mobility. He constantly seeks out additional work and puts forth maximum effort on every snap. Mayfield started just 15 games in college and is oozing with potential.
Hand usage and hand placement are concerns for Mayfield. His foundation remains strong, but he fails to use his length to his advantage. When he feels himself getting beat, he tends to lunge at his assignment rather than using an alternative recovery method. There may be some initial growing pains as savvier pass-rushers get the best of Mayfield, but those poor reps shouldn’t last for long.
While Mayfield certainly isn’t weak and does have great size, he doesn’t do particularly well with bull-rush moves and needs to improve his play strength. Getting low, setting a firm anchor and greeting EDGE players with a punch will help. Mayfield is a nasty run defender, so being taught to translate that mean streak to the passing game should be something he can do without much trouble.