Jalen Reeves-Maybin has been an outstanding leader for Tennessee’s defense since his sophomore year. He led the team in tackles for loss his junior season and was in the top 10 in the SEC consistently for overall tackles and tackles per game. Reeves-Maybin proved his true potential on the national scale over those two eye-catching seasons, however, an injury-riddled senior season will hurt his draft projection.
His last year with the Vols consisted of 20 total tackles, two tackles for loss and a season ending left shoulder injury. He started all four games in his final season before being sidelined in the first quarter of the Florida game on Sept. 24. Surgery in early October was his next step to get back on track. After a successful surgery and a strong recovery, Reeves-Maybin announced his decision to enter the 2017 NFL draft.
Despite a career-ending injury at Tennessee, Reeves-Maybin has proved himself in previous years to be a real contender in the upcoming draft.
Linebacker is a stacked position with an abundance of talent and depth for the draft this year. Many of them even come from Reeves-Maybin’s own conference — Alabama’s Reuben Foster, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham and Florida’s Jarrad Davis are projected to be either first or second round picks. This could spell trouble for Reeves-Maybin, because most draft predictions have him within the top 15 prospects at linebacker, but only projected to go in the fifth or sixth rounds.
Reeves-Maybin may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A strong combine is his key to show scouts and coaches that his best days of football are yet to come. He could have a hopeful combine if his physical measurements and injury evaluations come back positive.
Many think Reeves-Maybin has outstanding closing speed, a nose for ball location, loves to play downhill, has tremendous sideline-to-sideline coverage and a great talent for shooting the ball carrier’s gaps. What more could any scout ask for in a healthy outside linebacker? His high football IQ and quick decision making will only champion his cause. These are just a few of the upsides that can help this talented athlete’s draft potential.
Reeves-Maybin has a real shot to be drafted without playing nine games of his senior season. That alone should show how special he can be when at full strength. A strong combine will ultimately be a deciding factor in his selection process.
He has been a vocal leader and has been an impact player for Tennessee’s defense over his four years. In the end, Reeves-Maybin is the only one who can show up and perform at the combine, but all of Vol Nation will be waiting and watching to see what one of its favorite athletes can do.
Edited by Robert Hughes
Featured image by Sumner Gilliam