Clemson product Byron Maxwell, a sixth round selection picked 173rd overall by the Seattle Seahawks in this year’s draft, is exactly the type of player teams take a late flyer on – a raw talent with great physical tools.
There’s no denying that Maxwell has the physical ability to play in the NFL. At 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, he bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and broad jumped 10 feet, 4 inches, all marks that placed him among the top 10 corners at February’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Maxwell, 21, is a hard hitter and was a valuable special teams player at Clemson, finishing with 45 career special teams tackles.
But what Maxwell will have to prove is that he has fluid enough hip movement and route anticipation to remain a corner for Seattle, where he will receive some intense competition for a spot on the final roster with players who already have some experience in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system like Walter Thurmond, Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox, Marcus Brown and Josh Pinkard.
If he cannot win a spot on the outside, then Maxwell could be looking at a move to strong safety in head coach Pete Carroll’s defensive system, with his safeties oftentimes playing close to line of scrimmage as fill guys in the run game.
“Byron is a big stud corner that makes hits and tackles and plays very well at the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said about Maxwell shortly after the draft. The Seattle head coach sees the Clemson product as a fit in his system because of his ability to be effective in press coverage and play tough at the line of scrimmage.
Bringing the pain: The first thing that you notice when watching Maxwell in his highlight package is this guy can hit. Appropriately, Maxwell wears No. 36, the same number another big hitter on Seattle wears – Lawyer Milloy.
Maxwell caused six fumbles during his career at Clemson, and finished with 11.5 tackles for loss, a sack, four interceptions and 20 pass breakups. So Seattle liked his ability to make game-changing plays and get the ball loose.
“Just being physical, that’s my best attribute,” said Maxwell when asked what he does well. “I can bring it.”
Learning on the run: One of the negatives for Maxwell is that he only has eight career starts at cornerback during his four-year career at Clemson, so he doesn’t have as much experience as you would like. But he certainly has the upside with his size and athletic ability.
Maxwell considers himself a corner, but would be willing to make the switch to safety if the Seattle coaches decide that’s what is best for the team.
“I just want to play football,” he said. “If that was the case (moving to safety) when I get there, then that would be something I have to deal with.”
2011 expectations: With no off-season workouts and ability to connect with coaches during the offseason, Maxwell will have an uphill battle earning a spot on the 53-man roster over more experienced players, and may be destined for the practice squad.
However, his ability to play special teams could help his cause, along with his knack for making big plays.
Check out some highlights of Maxwell in the video below.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider talks about Maxwell in this video link.