With the 82nd overall pick in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin out of Louisville. The outside linebacker position for the Jets has been a swinging door as of late. It’s been filled by veterans from across the league from guys like Jason Taylor, Jason Babin, Quinton Coples, and even Calvin Pace. The only thing consistent about this is the inconsistency of the position. Heading into the 2015 offseason, a big priority for the Jets was injecting some youth into this positional group.
The Jets had chances earlier in the draft to address the position. Because of the fantastic free agency period, the Jets were in a position to go BPA (best player available) with the 6th overall pick. The Jets had flirtations with the top pass-rushers in the draft: Bud Dupree, Vic Beasley and even Randy Gregory. But ultimately they stuck to their board and took arguably the top player of the entire draft in Leonard Williams. So they waited patiently to address the OLB spot and that is the same approach we should expect in terms of Mauldin’s playing time.
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Pace is a seasoned veteran for the Jets, he’s been here since signing a lucrative $42 million dollar deal back in 2008. He’s getting older (34 years old), but he showed he’s still got some gas left in the tank. In 2013, he had his best year as a pro collecting double-digit sacks for the first time in his career.
Last season, he signed a 2-year extension with the team worth $5 million. But with 1 year left on his contract, will he be able to hold off Mauldin? Mauldin is a young hungry rookie looking to make an impact early and often. Just like he did at Louisville.
Selected first-team All-ACC in 2014. Selected to play in the 2015 Senior Bowl. Started all 13 games in 2013 despite being struck by a vehicle while riding his moped to a morning workout in August. Selected second-team All-AAC. In 2012, led team in sacks.
From early looks, Mauldin has been impressing coaches in shorts. If you want some more information on just how good Mauldin has looked, check out this article by our very own Luis Tirado Jr. as he has an update on how he’s been doing so far during organized team activities. He’s definitely a player that we’ll all be cheering for. He’s lived in 16 foster homes in and around Atlanta throughout his young life. He’s had a rough upbringing but he may have finally found a home for good here with the Jets.
Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad running back Cameron Artis-Payne of Auburn (44) pulls in a pass against South squad outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin of Louisville (94) during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
So for this upcoming season what can we expect? Worst case? If he isn’t able to dethrone Pace this season as the starting outside linebacker on this defense, he’ll be a rotational pass-rusher who will see mop up duty throughout games this season. Best case? He takes the job from Pace and shows his pass rushing prowess and becomes the last piece of the puzzle on defense. I think realistically his ceiling this season is 2-5 sacks as a rotational pass rusher off the edge. He has the potential to be a special player if given the proper time to develop this upcoming season.