What does Bill Belichick appreciate about linebacker Jerod Mayo?
The answer came shining through in NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” program on Sunday night, when Belichick presented Mayo as the 62nd best player in the NFL (as voted on by players).
“Tenth pick in the draft, obviously a big contract, and I think about all he has is two trucks and a house a half mile away from the stadium,” Belichick said on the program. “He kind of keeps it close to the vest. He’s a football guy.”
Belichick, of course, has been a “football guy” – NFL style – since 1975. Mayo embodies what he looks for in players, especially those the team selects in the first round because it sets the tone for the rest of a rookie class.
As for his style of play, Belichick touched on Mayo’s range and tackling ability – both with the Patriots and coming out of Tennessee.
“He makes a ton of tackles, he made a ton of tackles at Tennessee. He played inside linebacker, you could see his range, his explosion, his ability to make plays sideline to sideline,” he said, later pointing out plays where Mayo chased down quarterbacks outside the pocket (e.g. Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick).
“We brought him in for a pre-draft visit to sit down and talk to him, and it was very impressive in terms of his overall understanding of the game, maybe as good an interview as I’ve had since Ray Lewis.”
Belichick added how Mayo handles the entire defensive front – defensive line, linebackers, stunts, adjustments.
“In a lot of cases, he controls the entire defense,” Belichick said, noting that players elected Mayo captain in his second season, which speaks to his leadership and the respect he’s earned from teammates. "Although he's an emotional player, he's not a very demonstrative player. He plays hard and I think his teammates rally around that."