Marquis Maze: 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of NFL Draft Prospect's Game
Marquis Maze certainly isn't the biggest receiver in this year's NFL Draft class, but he has been one of the most productive.
What makes Maze especially intriguing to NFL scouts is that he put up those big numbers while playing at arguably the top college football program in the nation, Alabama.
Maze is a speedy receiver, who also is a threat in the return game, which makes him a valuable asset to NFL teams. But while he has the speed and experience needed to succeed at the NFL level, not everything is perfect with Maze's game.
Let's break down six strengths and weaknesses in Marquis Maze's game.
Strength: Track Speed
Marquis Maze was invited to this year's NFL Combine, and he participated despite re-aggravating a hamstring injury in Senior Bowl practices less than a month before.
He still managed to run a 4.51 sec. 40-yard dash, but he has run better times in that event in the past (via NFLDraftScout). If he was fully healthy, chances are that he would run somewhere in the 4.4 range, which is ideal speed for a slot receiver/return specialist in the NFL.
But Maze isn't just fast; he is also quick and explosive, using his speed and crafty moves to make people miss anywhere on the football field. When the ball is in his hands, there is a legitimate chance that he has the quickness to take it the distance if he can get in the open field.
There will be several teams that will fall in love with this guy's big-play ability.
Weakness: Lacks Ideal Size and Length
There are plenty of wide receivers who are under 6'0" and succeed at the NFL level.
But in Marquis Maze's case, he stands at just 5'8", 185 pounds, which is extremely small for an NFL wide receiver. In addition to his height, he also has unusually small arms, measuring at just 29-and-three-fourths". To give that some comparison, Kendall Wright (Baylor), Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) and Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), who are considered to be the top three wide receiver prospects in this year's draft, have arm lengths of 31, 32 and 33 inches, respectively.
Maze might not be able to grow in height, but he should be able to put on more muscle, which he should focus on when making the jump from college football to the NFL. He is far from an imposing presence, lacking the strength and body definition that most NFL slot receivers usually possess.
Again, one can't control height, but in Maze's case, he should be able to work on getting stronger if he wants to be successful as a pro.
Strength: Making Big Plays
Make no mistake about it, there weren't many more explosive big-plays guys in all of college football this year than Marquis Maze.
He may not be the tallest guy on the field, or the best route runner, but this is a kid who always seems to make big plays at big times for his team. He can simply make things happen when he has the ball in his hands.
If you take a look at Maze's stat lines over the years, he has had at least one catch of 48-or-more yards in each of his past three seasons at Alabama. Not to mention, he also had a kick return of 70 yards and a punt return for 83 yards this past season.
There is no doubt that this guy is one of the best playmakers in this draft.
Weakness: No Hops
You would think a guy who is both small and extremely fast would be able to leap up and make a play on the ball, right?
Well, maybe in some cases, but Marquis Maze doesn't exactly posses the best "hops" in this year's draft class.
At the combine, Maze recorded a score of 33.5 inches in the vertical jump testing portion of the event. To put that into perspective, Connecticut's Kashif Moore jumped 43.5 inches—almost a foot higher than Maze.
Oregon State's James Rodgers, who is also an undersized wide receiver prospect, ranked 14th on that list, jumping 37 inches, which is still nearly four more inches than Maze.
This isn't a huge deal, but it would be nice to know that a slot receiver can go up and snatch the ball out of the air when needed.
Strength: Played Against the Best on the Biggest Stage
Playing for a college football powerhouse like Alabama certainly has its benefits.
In Marquis Maze's case, he had three straight seasons wearing the Crimson Red and White where he caught 30-or-more passes for 500-or-more receiving yards.
He did all this while playing against top-notch competition in the SEC.
In his four years at Alabama, Maze went up against schools like LSU, Florida and South Carolina, which featured defensive backs like Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Joe Haden and Stephon Gilmore. All four of those guys have been or are expected to be first-round draft selections in the NFL.
Experience can't be taught, and Maze has plenty of it, having gone up against the best of the best.
Weakness: Sloppy Route Runner
It seems like Marquis Maze is always good for at least one big play per game.
But for some reason, despite his big-play ability, Maze still struggles with his route running. He doesn't run crisp routes and often shows sloppy body control when attempting to get open.
At the college level, that can be looked past as long as the end result is positive, which it generally is in Maze's case. But at the NFL level, route running is extremely important because plays are often dependent on timing routes.
This is something that Maze is going to have to work on and improve before he expects to make an impact as a wide receiver at the NFL level.