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Breaking down what Arthur Maulet brings to the Steelers’ defense

The former Jets defensive back is an underrated addition to the Steelers.

New York Jets v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Steelers signing of Arthur Maulet met with little fanfare. A depth defensive back from the terrible Jets defense signed amid a bunch of “camp body” signings. The Steelers were still expected by many people (me included) to use a priority draft pick to bring in a defensive back who could compete in year one. Instead, the Steelers weighted till the 7th round pick to pick a defensive back, then added some of the more highly touted undrafted free agent defensive backs.

That caused me to go back and look at the Maulet signing, and wonder if maybe I was overlooking the player they added. Today we are going to look at Arthur Maulet and how he can fit into the Steelers secondary.

2018 Arthur Maulet (#32 Colts) is the third defensive back from the top of the screen.

I wanted to get this out of the way. Maulet gets beat here for an 80 yard touchdown by Donte Moncrief, the longest reception of Moncrief’s career. The Steelers would sign Moncrief after this season, so I feel like I need to let people know that Maulet getting beat here may have helped Donte Moncrief get a contract in Pittsburgh.

That’s a pretty bad place to start from, it’s going to get better from here, but there are definitely question marks on Maulet’s ability to man up on deep threats, and the bad mojo from being associated with Donte Moncrief may matter to some of you.

2019 Arthur Maulet (#23) is the cornerback farthest to the top of the screen.

Maulet played a good amount of outside corner for the Jets in 2019. Maulet is a good run defender on the outside, he’s physical, driving the receiver back and establishing control of outside run lanes. He gets into position and tackles the back for a loss. The best part is how easy he makes this look by just doing it right.

Arthur Maulet (#23) is in the bottom left corner of the screen.

The motion sends Maulet from outside corner to deep in a safety alignment. Maulet reads the run play, stays in perfect positioning as he cuts off the runner’s outside angle, then finishes the tackle. This is 2019, #33 is Jamal Adams. Maulet reads the play and gets to the ball faster than Jamal Adams. That’s pretty good.

Arthur Maulet is the cornerback to the top of the screen.

Maulet is in cover-2 short zone on this play. His execution on this play is outstanding. As Derek Carr scrambles he takes away the first down throw, then gets to the back to force another negative play.

Arthur Maulet is lined up across from #82, right behind the goal post to the right side of the screen.

#82 is Duke Williams is a 6’3” 225 lb. wide receiver. Maulet does a really good job managing the block, and works himself into position to make the tackle. For a player listed at 5’10”, 190 lbs., that isn’t bad at all.

2020 Arthur Maulet is the second defensive back from the top of the screen.

Late in the 2020 season, Maulet was starting at safety and sliding into the slot in nickel and dime defense. Here he shows his good read and react speed, getting to the out route and denying any extra yards.

Arthur Maulet (#23) is to the right side of the screen.

I love the delay in his reaction to the motion. He waits until Baker Mayfield is about to receive the snap to move, changing what the quarterback is seeing as close to the snap as he can. He’s not Mike Hilton, who was amazing at timing up his pre-snap movements so that quarterbacks often didn’t even know he had moved, but it is still a nice move, as is his tackle of Nick Chubb at the catch point.

Arthur Maulet is the second defensive back from the top of the screen.

The Browns frequently put tight ends across from Maulet and tried to attack him with size in this game. It didn’t work very well. Maulet does a great job working around the body of the receiver to get a clean break up.

Arthur Maulet is the nickel corner, second from the top of the screen.

Maulet has the responsibility to take any in-cutting route from his side, and when they all go deep, he switches into zone. The moment he turns back to get eyes on the quarterback he sees Baker Mayfield moving to his left and takes off. He has the awareness to diagnose what is about to happen and he makes a fantastic play to break up the pass. This play was on the Browns final drive of the Jets 23-16 win, as was the next play.

Arthur Maulet is the second defensive back from the bottom of the screen.

It’s third and 10, the Browns have Austin Hooper matched up on Arthur Maulet. They run Hooper on a 10 yard out. You can see Hooper drive Maulet back to give himself room to catch the ball and pick up the first down. You can also see Maulet take the hit and recover, driving the 6’4” 254 lb. tight end backwards. This play gained 9 yards, on 4th and 1 the Jets would stuff a quarterback sneak and pick up a win.

From 2019 to 2020, Arthur Maulet either played less than 50% of snaps as a dime back or he started and played at least 85% of snaps. When he played 85% or more of the snaps, the Jets were 7-3. The Jets went 9-23 in those two seasons, meaning they were 2-20 when Maulet wasn’t playing most of the game. Not that Maulet was the reason for those wins, but it is interesting when players correlate to winning that much, especially as a non-starter.

Arthur Maulet shows great awareness and understanding on the field. He reacts quickly to what he sees and does a good job playing the ball in the air and playing the angles of ball carriers. Maulet isn’t a high end athlete, and he isn’t someone you can play on an island with a receiver. Because of that he doesn’t have a lot of upside in the NFL, and he certainly isn’t your ideal starter at almost any position.

In the Steelers dime defense they play a lot of zone and route matching. In those coverage schemes, awareness and reaction speed are more important than athleticism. Maulet is really solid in those defenses. He also has shown value stepping in for injured players at outside corner and at safety.

Arthur Maulet isn’t going to be the playmaker Mike Hilton was, but he’s a very solid depth piece who should compete for the nickel and dime back roles.