Michael Mauti has drive and passion along with talent which makes him an attractive option to help fill holes on the Steelers defense. However, he also has an ACL injury history. That is probably enough to concern any team when they weigh whether they should draft him. However, there is enough upside that the risk is worth it if they take him as a later round pick.
The NFL.com draft summary calls Mauti a “tremendously instinctual player.” However, scouts are concerned about Mauti’s lack of straight-line speed and explosiveness. During 2012, Mauti is credited with 95 tackles (48 solo) and 2.5 sacks in 11 games. While instincts can’t explicitly make up for lack of speed, the anticipation about where he needs to make a play is still valuable.
Michael Mauti is one of the names that comes up when you talk about the Penn State players who got together to urge the current players to stick together. Amid some horrific information about events that happened in and around State College, Mauti lobbied, along with several other seniors, for players to stay and stick together. No one would have blamed Mauti for wanting to go somewhere else, but he visualized something beyond the turmoil. While you can debate whether or not Penn State’s administrators were too focused on football to do the right thing, you cannot blame the current players who have nothing to do with the situation. Mauti was among those who wanted to play for something bigger than themselves. When you can inspire others to take a hard route instead of a potentially easier path, you have a gift. After Mauti’s injury, the players put his number on their helmets as a way to honor him for what he meant to the team. It’s notable that he continued to encourage and lead the team from the sidelines too. It’s hard to quantify this kind of quality and it is not something everyone has. I think it is the huge upside to Mauti.
Should Mauti be a high draft pick? No, his injury history really complicates the picture. However, I think the Steelers have more access to find out about his injury and the extent of his latest surgery. According to Audrey Snyder, Mauti’s surgeon was James Bradley (brother of Tom Bradley, the PSU interim head coach) who is also Steeler’s physician and orthopedic surgeon. Who better to assess Mauti’s health status? I haven’t seen anything else after Mauti’s mid-week visit to the Steelers and there probably won’t be any other indications until the draft.
The Steelers have so many holes to fill. I’ve said it enough times to feel like a broken record. I think that Mauti can offer a lot to the Steelers if he stays healthy. Also, the rookie pay scale doesn’t put a huge drain on the team’s salary situation, so the risk is lower even if Mauti’s health becomes an issue. I think his college play shows he deserves a shot and I’d like to see it work out with the Steelers.