NFL draft: Seahawks choose Thomas’ talent over familiar Mays
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — No, Pete Carroll isn't playing USC favorites so far in his first draft as an NFL coach since 1999.
The Seahawks' new coach and the former head man at Southern California until January passed on Trojans safety Taylor Mays with the 14th overall pick Thursday in favor of Texas All-American safety Earl Thomas.
That's even though Mays is the more experienced top safety. And that's even though Carroll has known Mays since the eighth grade and recruited him out of Seattle's O'Dea High School to join the Trojans a few years ago.
"We care a lot about our guys and all that," Carroll said of his USC players. "But we had made a declaration. We thought we saw something really unique in Earl, in all that play-making ability. I think he had something like 24 pass breakups for one year — extraordinary numbers, and that's something we desperately had to add to our team. So he jumped out."
Carroll said Thomas has a unique ability to cover outside receivers man-to-man like a cornerback, a position the 20-year-old played at times with the Longhorns.
Mays is considered a bigger hitter but less of a ball hawk than Thomas.
"Yeah, I love Taylor Mays and everything he stands for," Carroll said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
Not yet, anyway. Mays is still available for the second round that begins Friday afternoon. The Seahawks have the 60th overall pick later in the round, though general manager John Schneider didn't rule out a trade to move Seattle up.
The Seahawks had just two safeties on the roster who participated in last week's minicamp.