For the New York Jets after what was an impressive rookie season, expectations are high for outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin for next season. Can he be a key contributor for Gang Green?
After being selected by the New York Jets in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Louisville, outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin has come a long way. The twenty-three year old has shown the Jets that he has some major potential within Todd Bowles‘ defense.
The big question for the Jets and their fans is whether Mauldin can become the dominant outside linebacker that the organization has been waiting on for years. The team has been in clear need of a force to be reckoned with off the edge and Mauldin could potentially become that guy at some point.
Over the course of his rookie season, Mauldin recorded the first four sacks of his career to go along with seventeen combined tackles. This was a fairly successful rookie campaign for Mauldin considering the fact that he started less than half of the Jets games in 2015, and he missed one due to injury.
Mauldin has already proven that the sky is the limit for him as a pass rusher off the edge. We have already seen flashes of his ability to use his explosiveness, strength and physicality to get to the quarterback.
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The biggest questions surrounding Mauldin’s on field ability have to do with his run defense.
Mauldin was mainly used as a situational pass rusher last season, and the Jets are looking for him to develop into a legitimate three-down linebacker in the NFL.
This means that Mauldin will need to develop all of the tools that it takes to be a three down linebacker in the pro’s.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked when evaluating Mauldin is his leadership abilities.
Coming out of Louisville, Mauldin was well-known for his heart and leadership both on and off the field.
As Mauldin gains more NFL experience, he should be expected to become one of the leaders of the Jets’ defense alongside players like strong safety Calvin Pryor, linebacker Darron Lee and defensive end Leonard Williams. Heart, drive and leadership are all qualities that will never be overlooked when it comes to Mauldin.
At the end of the day, the high expectations are rightful for Mauldin heading into his sophomore season in the NFL. He has already shown that he has the ability to be productive and that productivity should only be expected to increase. Only time will tell as to whether Mauldin can develop into the edge presence that Jets fans have been waiting for. If his rookie season is any indication, he should absolutely breakout in 2016 with even more reps.