First off I have to say if Aaron Curry is there at #3 you have to take him. His potential outweighs his risk substantially and he's a near lock to be a great starter in this league. I totally respect Curry but don't pass up on Rey Maualuga too quickly, if Curry is unavailable or if we can trade down I really think Maualuga will be in Red and Gold come next season, heres my case for him.
- Height: 6' 2"
- Weight: 249 pounds
- 225 Bench: 23x
- 40: *wait until pro day* (although a 4.8 for a linebacker with a pulled hammy is pretty impressive)
- Vertical: *wait until pro day* (couldn't participate at combine due to injury)
- Although his stats are pretty legitimate for 12 game spans, consider it's been rumored that he's played through injury on a few occasions. A trait desirable in any football player. Consistency is a key aspect in an ILB's game, when you base your D around a single player you don't want him out of the game.
- One of the things that really makes me fall in love with the guy is the highlight reel for Brian Cushing; before you go to the link try to remember to keep your eyes on 58. The destruction he causes allows Cushing to roam free. With all that speed how could you not look like a baller in free space? Cushings highlight reel proves Maualuga's ability to suffocate a run game.
- Another guy who's game has benefited from Maualuga's monstrous play is Fili Moala. With Maualuga's ability to cover the immediate passing game spelled by Talor Mays' shutdown play in the secondary, Moala had all sorts of time to get through offensive linemen. Also, when Maualuga shoots gaps, Moala is left single covered due to how much attention Maualuga demands. Moala's highlight reel proves Maualuga's ability to cover the immediate passing game.
- Of coarse you have to look at Rey Maualuga himself. When you check out this reel look how he wraps up, something our linebackers have been lacking. Also take note to his intelligence at full speed, he stays in full stride when he gets sacks or tackles in the backfield and he is frequently in full stride on deflected passes and interceptions.
Things to look at
- Maualuga has been interviewed by Kansas City Chiefs scouts at both the combine and the senior bowl. With USC's pro day coming up you have to believe that he'll get another visit from the Chiefs. Don't put too much stock in this teams pretty much interview anything with legs at these events
- Maualuga has been touted as the premier ILB for the 3-4 by various draft sites such as Walterfootball, Totalprosports, and NFLdraftdog.
- If you look up some of his interviews he's a humble guy with a lot of respect for the game. Pete Carrol products hardly ever get in trouble in the NFL, good behavior is a nice trait in todays NFL considering the huge disappointment the likes of Cedric Benson, Tank Johnson, and Adam Jones have been.
Current NFL player comparison
James Farrior hands down.
- Maualuga attacks the same way Farrior does, at full speed relying on intelligence to put him in the right place.
- Maualuga hasn't been touted as the fastest linebacker ever just like Farrior in the 97' draft.
- Check it out they wore the same number (which is why I put up a picture of him in his Jets days) and both didn't run the 40 full force at the combine due to complications.
- Both Maualuga and Farrior are excellent players attacking the line but their short pass game defense ability make for unexpected interceptions.
- Farrior is the center of Pittsburgh's defense and was the corner stone of the Steelers defense that carried the team to a super bowl victory. Just like Maualuga has been the cornerstone for the building of one of USC's greatest defenses in it's rich history.
- It's funny Jacksonville at #8 (where Farrior was picked) may prove to be a legitimate trade partner. They just let go of Mike Peterson for inability to produce and could be looking for Curry, who's been projected as an excellent 4-3 MLB, to reboot their once great defense. Or a trade up for a legitimate tackle before Seattle, Cincinnati, and Oakland pick.
- Although Curry looks like an outstanding prospect and shows much more promise than Maualuga, however in the event where Curry is unavailable or we are able to trade down before the Broncos (who pick at #12) Maualuga is the one we'll be picking. Curry will be an outstanding OLB, however if he comes to KC, where we currently house Derrick Johnson, Demorrio Williams, and Mike Vrabel, he will be asked to center the Kansas City defense and man the ILB spot. A switch from Curry's natural position on the outside throws his stock a bit but still he shows enough promise to do it. Also take into consideration how much (of the little pool of guys we've picked up) of our FA signings have been OLB's or DE's. Foreshadowing?
- Maualuga specializes in shooting gaps as his supreme intelligence on the field allows him to get through offensive lines at full speed. Considering we just turned in the worse sack campaign in league history, and our run defense was an epic fail: Maualuga would create some much needed help in the run and pass rush aspects of the game immensely, which would in retrospect, create forced passes that will show the NFL just how good our young secondary really is.
- Finally Maualuga's skill set made the entire USC defense better, as evidenced by his team mate's highlight reels. Maualuga is the kind of guy you can build a defense around due to his excellent skill set and willingness to play through injury, thus creating longevity and consistency. Aside from his physical abilities, Maualuga was known as the emotional leader of the Trojan defense, and was the face of one of the greatest USC defenses of all time. With our defense in rebuild mode it makes sense.