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Taylor Mays blames Pete Carroll for his draft fall

ON THE NFL

The safety, selected by 49ers in the second round, says he got bad advice from his former coach. Jimmy Clausen is taken by Carolina with the 48th pick.

April 23, 2010|Sam Farmer

From New York — Pete Carroll was among the most popular coaches in Los Angeles history.

But as far as USC's Taylor Mays is concerned, his old coach has some serious explaining to do.

Mays, drafted 49th by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday in the second round of the NFL draft, is upset Seattle Seahawks Coach Carroll took a different safety in the first round -- Earl Thomas of Texas -- and says the coach gave him bad advice about how to prepare himself for the NFL.

"I felt he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was definitely alarming," Mays told Bay Area reporters on a conference call. "Some things that he told me I needed to do as a football player, versus the actions that he took and who he took as a safety. I understand it's a business, but with it being a business, you just need to be honest and that's all I was asking for."

The comments by Mays were the most eye-catching on a day when UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price went 35th to Tampa Bay; USC tackle Charles Brown went to New Orleans with the final pick of the second round (64th); Trojans receiver Damian Williams went near the middle of the third, 77th to Tennessee; and USC cornerback Kevin Thomas was taken 94th by Indianapolis.

Among other locals, neither USC defensive end Everson Griffen nor UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner have been selected yet. The draft's conclusion, Rounds 4-7, takes place today (7 a.m. PDT; ESPN, NFL Network) at Radio City Music Hall.

Price, the Pacific 10 Conference defensive player of the year, was delighted to wind up with the Buccaneers, who also took Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with the third overall pick.

"They're loaded now, and I'm just glad to be a part of it," Price said. "I've got a big smile on my face right now. When I went out there for a visit, I just had a feeling in my heart that this is where I'd end up. That city loves defense."

And, as an aside, Price is proud to say that a UCLA player was chosen before a USC one.

"That's pretty cool," he said. "UCLA is getting back on the map."

The day also was marked by the tumble of quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame and Colt McCoy of Texas. Clausen, widely projected as a first-rounder, went 48th to Carolina.

Clausen, of Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, was very pleased to be taken by the Panthers, where he'll compete for the starting job with former Hart High standout Matt Moore.

"To be honest, I didn't think I was going to go anywhere, whether it was the top 10 or first round, second round, third round," Clausen said. "I just wanted to hear my name called. My agent has been talking to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and I couldn't be more excited than I am right now."

McCoy, predicted to go in the second, was taken late in the third (85th) by Cleveland. In a nice moment, the NFL allowed Longhorns Coach Mack Brown to read the selection.

Meanwhile, the relationship of another coach and player was not so warm and fuzzy. But it's not as if Carroll's decision to pass on Mays sent shock waves through the NFL. Thomas, selected 14th, was a better pro prospect in the eyes of a wide array of evaluators. Despite phenomenal size and speed, Mays had only one interception in 2009 (plus one in the Senior Bowl) compared with eight by Thomas. That's only one category, but it's a significant one.

Had Mays left school as a junior, the buzz was he would have been a top-10 pick. Then again, many people projected him as a first-round pick this year and were wrong. Regardless, he thinks Carroll steered him wrong on how to improve his stock.

"Just in terms of, I didn't have anything to worry about, that my game was OK, that my backpedaling was fine, my tackling was fine," he said. "It's all things that I asked. What do I need to work on? What do I need to show? All these points and I was kind of led to think that I would have been OK."

After selecting Thomas, Carroll said the Texas standout had special coverage skills that elevated him in the eyes of Seahawks scouts.

"Yeah, I love Taylor Mays and everything he stands for," Carroll said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

Maybe it did. Now that Mays and Carroll are in the same division, they will meet twice a season, and Mays landed with a team that got its greatest safety from USC, Ronnie Lott.

"It's a guy that I've looked up to for a very long time in my life and he's a safety I try to emulate a lot," Mays said of Lott. "I went to USC to try and live the legacy that he lived at USC and now I get to go to the San Francisco 49ers, where I'll try to carry on the legacy that he left."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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