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Mayle is a record setter. In his senior year, he set WSU single-season records with 106 receptions and 1,483 yards while becoming the only player in PAC-12 history to record two 250+ yard games. As a young man who only started playing receiver in 2012, those numbers are hugely impressive. They were also more than double his numbers from his junior year, showing a crazy improvement over just two seasons; culminating with a selection in the fourth round of the NFL Draft after a long journey to the professional level.
At 6’2”, 224; Mayle is huge, but he surprises with his fluidity and balance when running routes. He uses his huge frame to his advantage, both in the blocking game and as a receiver. A former basketball player, he boxes out defenders to get open, leaps over them for contested balls and bowls over them when he has possession. He also has a habit of scoring touchdowns, like this long beauty against Utah.
In the DLF Draft Blog, our Jacob Feldman identified all of his weakness: “Far too many drops, not very athletic, very inconsistent.” While he was receiving some second or third round buzz before the combine, his disappointingly slow 4.67 40 yard dash was a setback for his stock (although he did run a 4.52 and 4.56 at his Pro Day). It has also been argued that his great production came from offensive guru Mike Leach’s offense, and Mayle could have been easily replaced by someone who could replicate (or even improve on) his numbers. He did have a high number of drops, and the level of focus or lack of natural catching ability could be a concern. Ultimately, there is a reason he was a fourth round pick; and he has a lot to improve on to be a viable fantasy asset.
Dwayne Bowe, Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline don’t exactly strike fear into their opponents, and the Browns need playmakers while they are without their star Josh Gordon. Jordan Cameron has gone, so can Mayle be a touchdown basket in the red zone? Both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel have been bailed out numerous times by the huge target that is Mike Evans, so can Mayle be there to ‘go up and get it’ when these two throw it up?
Unfortunately, he has many things working against him. Cleveland looks like they are going for a run-heavy theme moving forward, so how often will they throw the ball? Who will be throwing it? Until we know how this offense will function and who will run it, I can’t see where the fantasy points will come from. For a player who is still ‘raw’ and learning, this may be an issue. Can he adapt to his first ‘pro’ offense and the new terminology? I believe his natural ability and the quick learning he has done over the past few years will benefit him, but when you reach a level where everyone around you has played the game their whole lives, the inexperience might stand out.
There are two ways to approach this situation. The first says that he is simply too raw and not ready to be thrust straight into the starting lineup. The second says: who will stop him? He may immediately have the most upside and potential of any receiver on the roster (that isn’t suspended). Unfortunately, he is already a step behind with the news he will undergo surgery after rookie camp for a broken right thumb. He may have to sit out OTAs and the June minicamp, and that harms a young player who really does need the practice.
Long-term Expectations: I think Mayle has more talent than everyone on the roster not named Josh Gordon. I also think a lot of success will come down to the coaching decisions his team makes. Do they stick with the known entities with their existing veterans, or take a risk and throw a young talent in at the deep end? As George Kritikos pointed out, Mayle is actually very similar to Hartline and Bowe in that he is more of a possession receiver than a deep threat, but I believe he can bring some power and physicality that the other receivers don’t. It may be some time before we see the best of him, but I like him as a deep roster stash.
NFL Comparison: NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared him to Patriots’ receiver Aaron Dobson, presumably because of the raw potential and talent that hasn’t yet been realised (along with the drops). I liken him to a bigger Anquan Boldin without the polish. Of course, Mayle has a long, long way to go to be even mentioned in the same breath as Boldin; but the physicality and strength remind me of the savvy veteran. He has said he watches Demaryius Thomas and Andre Johnson a lot, yearning to emulate their physicality; and his willingness to show that on the field could be helpful.
Projected Range for a Rookie Draft: In our consensus rankings after the draft, Mayle barely snuck into the third round at 3.12. In our post-draft rookie ADP, he was all the way down at 43rd, so he is easily attainable. He is flyer who I like this year as a late third/early fourth round pick.
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