While it may bring sadness to Penn State football fans, Michael Mauti will not be competing in Beaver Stadium next season as he prepares to take his talents to the NFL.
Mauti, an emotionally vocal leader in 2012 from start to finish, has been riddled by injuries throughout his career, leaving the question: where does the linebacker's draft stock stand?
First, let's take a look at what Mauti was able to accomplish in his time in Happy Valley.
Statistically, the 6'2'' backer spent a total of five seasons at Penn State, totaling 209 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions.
Maybe more importantly, Mauti and his fiery attitude became the face of the Nittany Lions' respected 2012 senior class, which helped lead a football team and a community out of perhaps college sports' worst scandal.
Mauti was not only known for his leadership, but also his bell-ringing hits, instinctive play and ability to take over games—attributes that were never more on display than in his inspired performance against Illinois this past season.
Mauti wasn’t the most athletically gifted defensive player on Penn State's defense last year, but his awareness and penchant for being be in the right position can sometimes be undervalued when assessing the linebacker position.
Look at fellow “Linebacker U” product Sean Lee. Lee, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round in 2010, wasn’t the most recognizable or versatile athlete coming out of Ron Vanderlinden’s group of linebackers. But Lee’s turned out well so far for Dallas.
With his leadership and ability to diagnose plays, Mauti would under normal circumstances be a high draft pick, one likely taken in the second round.
However, that may be unrealistic, thanks to a laundry list of serious injuries that have hampered Mauti and will have NFL general managers worried about his longevity at the next level.
No matter how cerebral a guy has, ACL tears in each knee (2009, 2011) and another knee injury that occurred against Indiana this past season do not bode well for a long NFL career.
However, that doesn't mean Mauti won't succeed at the next level.
In fact, if his dedication is any indicator of how he'll be as a professional football player, then he should be just fine. For those who missed it, Mauti sent handwritten letters to all 32 NFL GMs expressing how much he loves the game.
In terms of his current draft stock, he's likely a mid-to-late fourth-rounder. CBSSports.com has Mauti as a projected fifth- to sixth-round pick
His ability to come back from previous knee injuries has been impressive to say the least. Moreover, not only will NFL teams be getting a smart, powerful linebacker in Mauti, they will land a guy with unparalleled leadership qualities.
So while his draft stock may be low in terms of what round he'd be selected in, Mauti will be end up being a steal if he can stay healthy.
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