If Mays can maintain his composure and physical style of play, he could start all 16 games this season.
Mays was taken 200th overall in the 2008 draft, and I am going to talk about him as if he is a rookie, despite coming into his second year with the Eagles.
He has only taken three (yes, three) snaps in a regular season game, and he hasn't really had a chance to prove himself. But he will on Thursday.
"Lacks height, but has impressive upper-body muscle structure (sometimes gets too muscular), thick chest, broad shoulders, thick thighs and calves..."
What does this mean for the Eagles' defense? How will stopping the run be the same this season without Bradley?
"Fires low off the snap and is combative with his hands in attempts to shed and split double teams..."
Mays is "The Answer." Not in a cocky, Allen Iverson way, but in a "he actually is the answer" way. Watching him at training camp gave me newfound hope in what looked to be a desolate season.
"Comes out of his stance and attacks the ball carrier with good force and has the hand strength to dislodge the ball from the opponent..."
Bringing back my Iverson point, yes, training camp is just practice. But this is the only thing I have to judge Mays on and he looks great.
"Good at stacking and controlling multiple blockers, which frees up his outside linebackers to make the play..."
From memory, he only gave up one pass for a big gain (the team was doing a one-on-one drill) and either knocked down the rest or stopped the TE from even getting off the line.
This sort of physical defense is what the Eagles need to recover from their losses to injury this offseason: a player that can come up and stop a Marion Barber or Brandon Jacobs up the middle or step back into coverage to break up short yardage plays.
"In pass coverage, he is capable of sticking to tight ends and slot backs..."
I have yet to see him blitz the QB in person, but he seems to be the sort of LB that can do it all. His versatility shone on the field, and I'm pretty sure I could smell his confidence and excitement from the sidelines.
"Has better vision on running plays, as he has that explosive initial step shooting the gaps..."
Mays has this "swagger" about him that makes him look fierce and competitive beyond what I have seen before. It could be that he is fighting tooth-and-nail for a starting position, or it could be he has analyzed, assessed, and is now dealing with the situation at hand: the lack of depth in the LB corps.
He said he has learned the scheme and playbook thoroughly and is ready for the upcoming season.
But don't get your hopes too high, he's not quite DeMarcus Ware. He looks great and is doing very well on the field, but he is essentially a newcomer to this team and still has a long way to go before becoming a starter in the regular season.
But he is well on his way.
Quotes taken from Joe Mays's scouting report before the 2008 draft.