Once the pride of the Knoxville Catholic Fighting Irish, Cade Mays has traveled a tumultuous path through Tennessee and Georgia to the 2022 NFL Draft. The versatile Tennessee offensive lineman, who will most likely be viewed as a guard at the next level, has received early first-round attention from some national analysts. Does Mays’ scouting report live up to the hype?
Cade Mays NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Tennessee
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’6″
- Weight: 325 pounds
Cade Mays Scouting Report
Being a five-star high school recruit doesn’t always lead to professional success. The path to the NFL Draft is littered with high-profile high school players who never turned their high school potential into a professional skill set. Despite this, Mays’ high school prowess is often referred to when making a case for him to be an early-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Does Mays’ scouting report live up to the reputation cultivated for the Tennessee guard?
There are certainly elements of May’s game that will prove attractive to the NFL. Firstly, where versatility is a highly valued commodity at the next level, there may not be a more versatile offensive lineman in the class. As we’ll allude to later in his player profile, Mays has seen starting time at four of the five offensive line positions. Furthermore, he’s seen significant reps at center.
There is also an element of scheme versatility that will make Mays a valuable draft prospect. He spent time in a power-run offense at Georgia before transferring to a more zone-based scheme at Tennessee. With scheme fit a crucial part of the evaluation, Mays will increase his options at the next level.
Size, strength, relative athleticism
When you think of offensive linemen, you think big nasties, particularly on the interior. Mays checks all these boxes.
At 6’6″ and 325 pounds, he has the requisite size to play guard or tackle in the NFL. He also plays the game with nastiness, looking to put his man on the ground at any opportunity.
Furthermore, he’s demonstrated strength in multiple ways. Mays is more than capable of taking a man out of the play with one powerful punch. The Tennessee guard also showcases impressive grip strength when he gets his hands on his man. Once he’s engaged, it’s rare to see his opponent break free from his vice-like grip. Mays also uses his lower body strength to anchor well when he gets set in pass protection.
Although he can’t be described as an elite athlete, Mays has impressive reps as a pulling guard or tackle. He moves well across the back of the offensive formation and routinely delivers a blow before his opponent has the opportunity to disrupt the play. The Tennessee OG also gets out to the second level well in the run game.
Areas for improvement
While Mays possesses some alluring potential and traits for the NFL, his inclusion in first-round mock drafts is extremely rich for my liking. There are multiple areas for improvement on the Tennessee guard’s scouting report. And they are far beyond the usual polishing that comes with consensus early-round contenders. As a result, a mid-to-late round grade is more suitable for Mays in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Multiple inconsistencies litter Mays’ tape. His timing and placement of his initial punch are often off, allowing his opponent to get the better of him. This becomes even more apparent while on the move, where he is guilty of flat out missing his man in the open field more often than he makes contact.
While his grip strength is good, the above timing issues mean that he routinely doesn’t get hold of his man. This allows him to be beaten inside with disturbing regularity. Moreover, he’s prone to bending at the waist rather than the knees, ensuring that he is unbalanced. Thus, he spends more time on the ground than he does driving his opponent into it.
Mays is guilty of some immature penalties that will need to be eradicated from his game. Additionally, he’s missed time with injury in almost every season during his college football career, which may cause a red flag.
Cade Mays Player Profile
There are few offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft whose high school résumé stands up next to Mays’. A five-star recruit who was the top player in Tennessee in the 2018 recruiting class, Mays was dominant for Knoxville Catholic. He had a laundry list of honors that included Class 4A Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-State even as a junior.
At 6’6″ and 325 pounds, Mays was a man amongst boys in high school. An avid hunter off the field, defensive linemen were his prey on the field. During his senior season, Mays registered 75 pancake blocks, displaying savagery and contempt for anyone that got in his way. He even barrelled through for 2 rushing touchdowns in a season Knoxville went 12-4 and landed the TSSAA Division I 5A title.
During a season that ended with a U.S. Army All-American Bowl invite and first-team All-USA honors, Mays was committed to his hometown Tennessee Volunteers. However, when Butch Jones was fired following an abysmal 2017 campaign, Mays rescinded his commitment.
Despite an offer from Alabama and visits to Clemson and Ohio State, Mays committed to Georgia on National Signing Day. The talented offensive lineman was seen as the final piece of a superstar unit for the Bulldogs.
Mays’ career at Georgia
While most true newcomers need a little seasoning before hitting the college field, Mays was already built like a grizzled veteran. Although he missed three games with injury, he featured in 11 contests. Furthermore, he made seven starts as a true freshman, including one at left tackle.
The superstar offensive line lived up to their billing in 2018. They were a top-25 unit for sacks allowed and tackles for loss. Meanwhile, they allowed the Georgia rushing attack to rank 16th in the nation. Mays earned Freshman All-American honors from the FWAA while being named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by the conference’s coaches.
Mays showcased his true versatility on the line as a sophomore. Making 11 starts in 14 appearances, he saw most of his time at right guard and took starting reps at right tackle, left tackle, and left guard. He even saw meaningful reps as a center against Missouri. The Georgia offensive line continued to develop into one of the top units in the country. They ranked fifth for sacks allowed and ninth in tackles for loss allowed.
Mays transfers across the SEC to Tennessee after two seasons in Athens
All was not well, however. Following the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor, Mays announced he was transferring to Tennessee. Having initially committing there, and with his brother Cooper also an offensive lineman for the Vols, you could see the logic.
Lurking underneath the logic was a murky undercurrent. Accusations of a toxic environment were lobbied towards Georgia, and the story of Kevin Mays’ decapitated finger became headline news. Having initially had his eligibility waiver denied, the Bulldogs accused the Mays family of trying to corral the appeal process into overturning the decision.
Whether that was a factor or not is cause for debate. Nevertheless, Mays was cleared to play for the Vols in 2020. The Tennessee native made his debut at right tackle against Missouri before moving inside to guard for the rest of the season. In one of his better performances of the year, he was credited with allowing neither a sack nor penalty against Auburn.
Although Mays could have declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, he opted to return for his senior season. With a new coaching staff and offensive system, the versatile offensive lineman has the opportunity to enhance his stock ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. While starting at right tackle in his first game of the new campaign, he didn’t allow a sack or penalty.