BGA Special: Scouting Aaron Maybin

This analysis is based on watching and re-watching TV footage. As such, it is not always possible to accurately determine everything that was going on. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the information below is as complete and correct as possible.

The Aaron Maybin signing was largely met with skepticism (and a little snarkiness) from analysts and fans alike, including myself. Maybin’s numbers are not impressive and the chances of him making an impact on what is developing into a perennial top five defense, when he couldn’t even get on the field for the struggling Bills seemed remote.

However, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket and the Jets’ top brass obviously felt it was a low-risk move to bring him aboard and see what he had to offer.

After the jump, I’m going to share some detailed scouting notes on Maybin and try to assess exactly what he brings to the table.

The Numbers

As noted up top, Maybin’s numbers in the NFL have not been very impressive. However, I’ve never been one to rely on numbers, so I’m going to be looking at how he performed. Before I do that, though, we need to set the scene by going through some of those numbers (courtesy of PFF).

Playing time:

2009: 232 snaps (42 in the opener against NE, no higher than 21 thereafter)
2010: 100 snaps (including 43 against New England)

Usage:

2009: 99 running plays, 131 pass rushes, dropped into coverage twice
2010: 29 running plays, 70 pass rushes, dropped into coverage once

In total, over the two years, he rushed the quarterback on pass plays 99% of the time.

Defensive Statistics:

2009: 10 solo tackles, two assists, two missed tackles
2010: Five solo tackles

Pass Rushing Numbers:

2009: No sacks, one QB hit, four pressures
2010: No sacks, one QB hit, five pressures

This compares closely to Vernon Gholston’s pass rushing numbers: Two hits, nine pressures in 201 pass rush attempts versus two hits, fifteen pressures in 322 pass rush attempts. However, Gholston was rushing as part of a three man line rather than off the edge a higher percentage of the time. In 2010, for example, Gholston had 41 pass rush attempts as an edge rusher (out of 104) and Maybin had 33 (out of 70).

Special Teams Numbers:

2009: Two tackles, one assist, one penalty
2010: No tackles, one penalty

The Scouting Data

In order to scout Maybin, I decided to look at every snap of the game against New England in Week Three of 2010. Maybin was on the field for 43 snaps that day, so it represented almost half of his playing time for the entire season.

Selection Bias

At this point, I need to make a major disclaimer. While this game is indicative of Maybin’s potential abilities, it must be taken into consideration that if he was getting that much playing time, he was obviously doing well in practice, so this may not be a fair representation of the rest of his career or where he is at now.

After this game, he didn’t have another game where his snap count got into double figures. Was that because he was banged up? Did he get out of shape? Did he show poor attitude in practice? Did he fall out with the coaches? Nobody can know for sure, although there are all sorts of theories out there.

We must ensure we take into account the fact that the Aaron Maybin that caused the Bills to lose so much faith in him that they let him go even though they still owed him some guaranteed money is almost certainly not the same as the one who they decided was worthy of heavy reps against one of the league’s top offenses last September.

So, whatever we get from this game, it should be considered as what Maybin is capable of…if and when he gets back to the way he was back then, whether that be by showing a better attitude, bulking back up or whatever. However, it’s also true to say that if he can get back there, that doesn’t represent his ceiling, because there’s no way he could be considered to be the finished article at that stage of his career.

With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s look at what Maybin did on every snap in that game against the Patriots. For the record, the 0-2 Bills ran the Pats surprisingly close, but ended up losing 38-30.

The Scouting Play-By-Play

Note: To save time, unless otherwise stated, Maybin lined up as a 4-3 DE on the right side and was in a one-on-one matchup with Matt Light.

First Half

1. Maybin rushed the passer and bounced off Light’s initial block, but Brady threw a quick pass before he could put him under pressure.
2. Maybin lined up as a 4-3 OLB across from Alge Crumpler on the right side. Crumpler leveraged him to the inside and blocked him to the ground creating a hole for a five yard run.
3. Maybin lined up on the left against Sebastian Vollmer and tried to make a spin move, but Vollmer backed up and stayed comfortably in front as Brady threw another quick pass.
4. Maybin showed speed off the edge, beating Light and getting pressure on Brady, who once again threw a quick pass, otherwise Maybin could have hit him.
5. This time Maybin got a step to the outside, but Light easily re-directed him upfield so Brady could comfortably step up and throw.
6. Brady went on a seven step drop and looked downfield. Maybin, seeing that he couldn’t get to him, backed off and tried to disrupt a passing angle.
7. Light handled him pretty easily, with some late help from Dan Connolly.
8. The Pats ran the ball away from him.
9. Maybin came off his block and made an inside move to get to Brady. I’d have credited this as a QB hit.
10. Light handled him easily this time and Brady made a first down completion, although the receiver lost a fumble downfield.
11. Maybin bit on a fake up the middle and lost contain as the Pats ran an end around to his side. The play gained five yards.
12. Maybin lined up on the left and fell on the pile after a five yard run up the middle.
13. Maybin made a good read as they ran the ball to the opposite side from him. However, he got caught up in traffic and couldn’t disrupt the runner from getting through the line for a 20-yard gain. That wasn’t his responsibility, but he almost managed to blow that play up.
14. He was blocked initially, but the runner slipped over and Maybin was able to get off his block and tackle him for no gain as he tried to get to his feet.
15. Once again they ran away from Maybin and the runner cut back across field for a 22-yard touchdown. Maybin couldn’t get back into the play because Light smartly directed him upfield and away from the cutback lane.
16. With the Bills in a dime formation, Maybin rushed against Light as part of a three man line. He bullrushed and Light managed to just about fend him off long enough for Brady to get the pass away unencumbered.
17. From the same formation, Maybin tried a spin move, but was easily repelled.

So, for the first half, Maybin had a couple of pressures and a couple of minor missteps against the run, but nothing serious. In fact, he had made a play against the run, albeit largely by happening to be in the right place at the right time and the biggest runs were not his fault. He wasn’t an easy matchup for Light and had tried some different things in an effort to put him under pressure.

Second Half

18. Tried a speed rush, but was redirected upfield again by Light. Brady threw another quick pass.
19. Another speed rush was handled comfortably, as Brady again threw a quick pass.
20. Maybin ran a stunt and Dan Connolly had to come over to pick him up. Maybin may have just about got his pads in front of Connolly before he made it all the way across, so you could perhaps call this a pressure, but it’s debatable. Let’s call it a half-pressure.
21. Once again, Maybin’s speed rush saw him directed upfield so Brady could step up.
22. Light stayed in front of Maybin easily here. Maybin lost his helmet on the play, which could have been seen as a hands-to-the-face penalty.
23. Lining up as a 3-4 DE, Maybin was initially driven off the line, but he came off his block and managed to get back to the runner to stop him for a short gain.
24. Tried to speed rush, but Brady threw a quick pass.
25. Made an inside move, which the tackle picked up, but this created room for a stunting DT to get a pressure on Brady.
26. Light blocked him to the ground on his pass rush attempt. Brady ended up scrambling the other way for a first down.
27. Brady threw an immediate pass the other way.
28. Brady threw an immediate pass to his side.
29. Got a good bullrush on Light who was moving backwards, but recovered well and Brady got a quick pass away.
30. Brady rolled out to the opposite side and threw a touchdown pass.
31. Lined up on the left and came off the edge unblocked. He almost got there, but the run went the other way.
32. A slot corner was covering the man in motion to Maybin’s side (LDE), but when the ball was snapped, the corner blitzed along with Maybin. LeVoir, who had replaced Vollmer at RT, picked up Maybin and then Maybin ended up driving him backwards into the path of the unblocked cornerback so LeVoir was able to shove him too, just about enabling Brady to get a quick pass off.
33. Maybin was blocked to the outside by LeVoir, as the run went up the middle. He hustled back and fell on the pile.
34. Handled easily by Light, buying time for Brady to throw a deep incompletion.
35. Maybin made an inside move to try and free up a stunting DT again, but this time the Pats picked it up well.
36. Lined up on the left and the run went the other way. LeVoir seemed to lazily just let him go.
37. The Bills stuffed a short yardage play as Maybin was initially blocked by a tight end, but then fell on the pile.
38. Maybin jumped offsides, but then tried to get back. Welker then jumped too, while Maybin was still in the neutral zone, so Maybin drew the flag. I’d like to say that was a smart veteran move by Welker, but it looked inadvertent.
38 (no snap on the last play). Lined up on the left, matched up with Gronkowski. Got some good penetration on that side, but Green-Ellis slipped through a gap for five up the middle.
39. On a short yardage conversion by the Pats, Maybin was blocked, but sort of fell backwards onto the pile.
40. Lined up on the right, but the Pats ran the other way (for a big gain).
41. Easily handled at the line and Brady threw a quick pass.
42. Was directed to the outside by Light and Brady stepped up to throw a quick pass.
43. With seven DBs in, Maybin lined up as a 3-4 DE on the right. Light cutblocked him to the ground.

In the second half, Maybin again created pressure a couple of times and made one good play against the run.

Officially, he was credited with three tackles and an assist and PFF credited him with three pressures. They gave him a negative grade overall, but he did get a positive grade for pass rushing and his overall grade would basically have been neutral if it wasn’t for the penalty. Only four Bills had a positive grade defensively, so his relative performance was not bad.

What Else Did He Do Last Year?

Other than that game, Maybin was only credited with one QB hit, two pressures and two solo tackles, so I must reiterate that this is indicative of his potential, not a representation of what could be expected from him on a regular basis.

I sought out those other plays where he had some pass rushing success. Clearly, the selection bias here is even higher because I am only looking at the plays where he made an impact – and on basically every other play last year, he did not. However, let’s review those.

- Against Miami, against Jake Long of all people (the irony should not be lost on any Vernon Gholston fans), he recorded his only QB hit of the season. On third and ten, he rushed to the outside, but bounced off Long’s block to the inside and got a clean path to the quarterback. This disrupted the pass, because Henne had a man open downfield, but misfired.
– Against Pittsburgh, he beat Jonathan Scott with a speed rush off the edge. Scott essentially tackled him to prevent a sack and was called for a hold. Beating Scott is slightly less impressive than beating Long (or Matt Light). Scott was PFF’s 8th worst rated tackle in 2010 and gave up six sacks, four hits and 27 pressures in 12 starts. By comparison, Long gave up just 12 pressures in 16 starts.
– Also against Pittsburgh (even though he was only on the field for four snaps), Maybin beat Scott to the inside for another pressure. The Steelers probably got away with a hold here, as Maybin drove Scott back and Roethlisberger collided with him. What happened next was pretty impressive. Scott fell on top of Maybin and Roethlisberger took off running. Maybin then crawled out from under Scott’s body, chased Roethlisberger out to the sideline and got a good hit on him. Unfortunately, it was still a first down scramble, but the hustle was remarkable.

Conclusions

Clearly Maybin’s lack of playing time was down to something going on behind the scenes, because his performance against the Patriots certainly seemed to merit more playing time, but instead his reps all but dried up, even though the Bills were struggling. Then when he did get a few reps against the Steelers and made a few impact plays, this didn’t translate to more playing time either.

Maybin graded out poorly against the run in 2009, so maybe that explains why he didn’t get much playing time that year, but he hardly played against the run in 2010, and when he did – as in the Pats game – it seems like he fared reasonably well.

I came away impressed with Maybin’s pass rushing ability, bearing in mind that I had deliberately selected a game in which he did well by his standards – and that I had low expectations to start with. I also noted that he dived onto piles and chased after lost causes, which were things I know Gholston was – perhaps sometimes unfairly – chastised for not doing often enough.

The challenge for the Jets now is going to be to get Maybin mentally, physically and emotionally back to where he was early last season. If he can bring what he did in that Pats game to the Jets, they can certainly use someone who will present the opposing left tackle with a challenge and perhaps even beat a one-on-one matchup from time to time.

I’m still extremely guarded in my optimism, but perhaps I was too quick to be totally dismissive of this deal. Yes, signs point to Maybin being the next Jarron Gilbert, but even he made the active roster before the end of his first season, so perhaps it is too soon to count out the same thing happening to Maybin after all.