The 2015 class has a plethora of prospects who are poised to become immediate impact players and pass rushers at the NFL level. Flying under the radar is versatile Louisville defender Lorenzo Mauldin, who has the work ethic, burn in his stomach and overall ability to become one the best defenders selected in this draft.
While the Broncos have DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller slated to start at both outside linebacker positions, the depth behind them is a notable concern. There are serviceable players available, but none have proven thus far in their young careers to be capable of being an every-down starter in the NFL. Therefore, it would be wise for the Broncos to invest one of their ten picks in a prospect who can be that type of player when called upon. One of my favorite candidates to earn that right would be Lorenzo Mauldin out of Louisville.
Defensive End and Outside Linebacker, Senior, Louisville
Height: 6'4" Weight: 259 lbs 40 time: 4.85 seconds
Arm Length: 33" Hands: 97/8"
Bench Press: 23 reps Vertical Jump: 32 inches
Broad Jump: 112" 3 Cone Drill: 7.36 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.19 seconds 60 Yard Shuttle: 11.75 seconds
Collegiate Statistics and Accolades:
- 2014 First-Team All-ACC
- 2013 Second-Team-All ACC
- 2012 Team Leader in sacks
- 2011 Freshman seeing action in all games, mostly on special teams
- Versatile defender, playing both defensive end and outside linebacker for Louisville over his career. Has even spent time on the interior and in special packages, inside linebacker.
- Due to versatility, can fit in odd and even fronts. Will likely be coveted as an outside linebacker for a 3-4 team.
- Intangibles are off the charts, Mauldin has a non-stop motor and gives it his all every snap.
- Exceptional football character is a testament to his will power and ability to overcome insurmountable odds. Spent his youth in over a dozen foster and group homes and despite such, was able to make the most out of a bad situation.
- Adored by coaches and teammates and always taking the extra opportunities to absorb film study and improve his game. Additionally he goes out of his way to motivate others on the field with him. Would be an excellent leader and addition to any locker room.
- Quality edge setter and run defender who amassed 119 tackles, with 34 of the for loss at Louisville. Also contributed to five forced fumbles over the past two seasons.
- Productive pass rusher with 21.5 total sacks in his two and a half years as a starter, with 16.5 sacks in his final two seasons. When he sets his sights on the quarterback and has the open lane to them, he obliterates them.
- Changes directions in pursuit very well and often beats tackles on the inside due to this.
- Uses his football IQ to get his hands up in the air to break up passes if he is unable to finish his rush.
- Needs to add more pass rush moves to his arsenal, relies too much on the arm over and doesn't display the power to effectively use bull rush on a regular basis.
- Active with his hand usage, however, he struggles consistently with leverage which hinders his abilities.
- Above-average off the snap, but makes up for it with covering ground quickly with his first steps.
- Athleticism is not elite and is not the natural bender of the edge most teams would desire, though compensates for the lack of it with a fiery demeanor and never say die attitude.
- Though consistent in his tackling technique, occasionally misses tackles in open space.
- Although he has experience dropping into coverage, it isn't his strength and lack of elite athleticism will hurt him here in the pros.
- No major injury concerns, but several nagging injuries need to be thoroughly vetted.
Does Lorenzo Mauldin fit with the Broncos?:
Absolutely. Mauldin might not be as highly touted as some of the other premier pass rushers in this draft, but his schematic versatility and well-rounded game would make him an excellent addition to the Denver Broncos and would be an exciting player to watch under Wade Phillips. With DeMarcus Ware's age and Von Miller's free agent contract status a the end of the year, the Broncos must be proactive and draft a future pass rusher for the franchise.
I firmly believe Mauldin is a better player than his former teammate Marcus Smith who went in the first round to the Eagles last season but had an incredibly disappointing rookie season. As of now, Mauldin is projected as a Top 100 selection by most scouting outlets. It is likely other teams will pass him up due to lack of elite athleticism, but I feel he will find a home somewhere between the second and third round.
His passion for the game and overall character will give him the drive and success to ultimately prove to be better than a majority of players selected ahead of him. Every prospect has things to improve on and Mauldin's deficiencies can be corrected with proper coaching. The last time the Broncos took a versatile prospect out of Louisville (Elvis Dumervil) they ended up being handsomely rewarded. Perhaps the Broncos will be lucky enough to get another diamond in the rough in this year's draft.