Weight is an issue for Penn State's Maybin

Penn State's Aaron Maybin , working out at the NFL scouting combine, has had trouble keeping weight on.
Penn State's Aaron Maybin , working out at the NFL scouting combine, has had trouble keeping weight on.
Posted: April 23, 2009

NFL teams look at Aaron Maybin's weight the way a bachelor(ette) would look at the ideal first date.

On draft day, his size has every team thinking long-term potential. But is the exterior authentic or is the former Penn State defensive end just looking to make the perfect first impression?

For Maybin, the weight issue will be the issue as he waits to see when, and by whom, he is chosen on Saturday, the first day of the two-day NFL draft.

There are other knocks against the all-American - his lack of a true position, his inexperience - but it will likely be his dramatic two-month increase in weight that gives general managers pause when deciding whether to invest a No. 1 pick and millions of dollars in the athletically gifted 21-year-old.

Many mock drafts include Maybin among the top 20 selections. But there is legitimate concern that Maybin, who went from 227 to 252 pounds, can't keep the weight on. The Penn State media guide listed him as being 6-foot-4.

"My weight is not an issue," Maybin said. "As far as that goes, I'm at a weight right now where I can play any position they're projecting me at. I can go either up or down."

Maybin is a tweener. Many envision him as a rushing linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Some, like Eagles general manager Tom Heckert, project him as a defensive end in their 4-3 scheme.

"He's got his weight up," Heckert said. "Whether he holds it or not, obviously, time will tell. But he's a good football player."

Maybin played full time with the Nittany Lions for only one season. He came into last preseason tipping the scales at 245, but dropped 10 pounds before the opener. By the end of the season, he weighed 230. Penn State coaches often bemoaned their inability to add bulk to Maybin, who has been described as thin through the hips.

"He's got to grow into that frame," said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for NFL Network. "He's up to 250, but can he maintain that weight through a 16-game season?"

As soon as Maybin, a redshirt sophomore, declared for the draft in January, he began working out at Power Train Sports Performance in Millersville, Pa.

In just 55 days, Maybin gained 25 pounds. His trainer, Steve Saunders, said his client's physical transformation was due in part to the long season, not illegal substances, as some online skeptics suggested.

"When he got here and got on the scale I said, 'Wow, we got some work to do,' " said Saunders, who works with pros such as the Eagles' Stewart Bradley and Todd Herremans. "But he was worn down after the season. So, for me, I really only added 15 pounds. He's still growing into that body. He has the ability to get up to 270, 275."

When Maybin showed up at the NFL scouting combine Feb. 18, he weighed 249 pounds. His swelling seemed to have affected his performance, and he ran only a 4.88 seconds in the 40-yard dash. But he performed solidly in other drills and still had a month to prepare for Penn State's Pro Day.

"Obviously, I wanted to get better numbers than what I posted" at the combine, Maybin said. "But truthfully, all that stuff doesn't have as much weight as people put on it."

Nevertheless, he significantly improved upon his combine numbers in the workout for scouts in State College. On what is considered a fast track, Maybin dashed 4.59 in the 40. His 40.5-inch vertical leap and 10-10 broad jump reportedly had jaws dropping.

"Aaron Maybin is a freak, just a freak of nature," said Chafie Fields, Maybin's agent and also a former Penn State wide receiver. "Guys like him don't come around every day."

True, but the same thing was once said about combine stud Mike Mamula. Mamula had a decent career, but he might not have warranted a first-round pick in 1995, much less the pre-draft hype.

"I have mixed emotions" about Maybin, Mayock said. "On the plus side, he has the most important attribute – an explosive first step. It's why every team has him on their draft board.

"But my problem is if I'm going to spend a first-round pick on a linebacker, I want a three-down linebacker. Not just a guy that can only pass-rush."

If Maybin were to get drafted by a 3-4 defense team - of which there are increasingly more - there would be some guesswork on his pass coverage abilities.

"I had some stand-up experience at Penn State," Maybin said. "There were a lot of coverages where they dropped me into the flats and into the seam routes. . . . I've worked covering guys man to man before."

But it wasn't as if Maybin did so for a full collegiate career. As a redshirt freshman, he lined up mostly on passing downs. The next season, though, he saw his stock climb after a breakout season of 12 sacks and eight additional tackles for loss. Then with two years of eligibility remaining, he left.

"I think he could have benefited from another year, both physically and mentally," Mayock said.

Said Maybin: "When I looked at it, I asked myself, 'Are you ready to commit to the next level.' And I felt like I was."

Whether teams are ready to commit, as well, remains to be seen.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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