When I did a quick check on NFL Combine scores of the Packers’ new class of draftees, I got a little twitch when I looked at those of Devante Mays.
He’s a running back out of Utah State, a Mountain West (non-BCS) conference school. Of the 10 new players, Devante Mays is out of the ordinary in several ways. For one thing, he lost almost all of his final year in college due to a leg injury. Though Mays started very humbly as a football player, his trajectory has steadily been upward.
After playing at Livingston High School in Texas, he spent his first collegiate year at Tyler (Texas) Junior College. Next, he proceeded to Blinn (Texas) Junior College as a sophomore.
At Blinn JC, he rushed for 557 yards on 57 carries, a 9.8 yard average. In so doing, he earned Southwest Junior College Football Conference honorable mention honors, drawing the notice of the Utah State Cougars.
After transferring to Utah State for his junior season in 2015, he made six starts at running back. After getting only 16 carries in the first three games, he became a workhorse, with double-digit carries in nine of his final 10 games. He finished the year with just under 1,000 yards rushing, averaging 5.9 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. Along the way, he had 23 rushes of at least 10 yards and 11 runs of at least 20 yards. He was not used as a receiver at Utah State, as he had only one catch in 2015.
Mays looked ready for a breakout year as a senior. In the season opener against Weber State, he rushed for a career-high 208 yards on 18 carries, and he scored three touchdowns on runs of 18, 18, and 66 yards. In his next game, however, he badly injured his leg, resulting in him finishing the year with only 37 carries – though he averaged 7.3 yards per rush when he did get the ball. He’s shown himself to be a high-yards-per-carry guy wherever he’s been!
When a player misses much or all of his final college season he’s often dismissed or forgotten by draft scouts. Bargains can therefore frequently be had.
Is Devante Mays A Fast Eddie Lacy?
After the Eddie Lacy experience, I had an immediate concern of how Mays’s weight of 230 pounds was distributed over his 5’11” frame. I wise-cracked that he sounded like Eddie Lacy but without the spare tire. Now that I’ve seen some game film on him, I’m happy to report that he does indeed appear to be in great shape and well proportioned, with much of his mass concentrated in his thighs, just like Lacy.
In fact, one draft profile describes Devante Mays as: “Built like a truck with muscular legs and a powerful, broad chest. Has a 420-pound bench press to his name.” Game films bear this out: his running style resembles that of the departed Lacy. The big man also possesses a 100 megawatt smile.
I don’t even have any basis for estimating how strong one must be to do a 420-pound bench press. But the game films — and these are available online all the way back to his high school days – depict a big back in the road-grader, battering-ram mold. He doesn’t so much bounce off people, as they bounce off him – and he has a wicked stiff arm. He seems to have a very good feel for heading straight downfield and falling forward as he is brought down.
Then there’s that 40-yard dash time. Though not invited to the NFL Combine, Mays attended a Pro Day event on March 31 in Logan, Utah. The 40-yard dash time he recorded was a very surprising 4.52, a couple strides better than Lacy’s NFL Combine time of 4.64. In fact, on one of his timed runs, people had him at either 4.47 or 4.46.
The game film also shows him looking like a 4.5-second dash man. A number of clips show him swinging wide and then easily outrunning defensive backs into the end zone. His apparent speed would put him well ahead of his Packers’ namesake, Davante Adams, as well as teammates Geronimo Allison, Quinten Rollins, and Ladarius Gunter, and way ahead of all the team’s inside or outside linebackers.
Mays has a lot of developing to do if he’s ever to become a valuable contributor to the team, or one who can some day be compared to Eddie Lacy. Still, it will be interesting to follow his progression. I can guarantee you that Packers’ defenders are going to be well aware of him when padded practices begin this summer.