After a year with so many negative headlines and a story that can only get worse, inside linebacker Michael Mauti was a great reminder of the good that does come from Penn State football. Penn State has a history of producing good linebackers and Mauti has been a leader who practiced what he preached with toughness, resilience, and a ton of heart that resonated throughout college football. After recovering from two ACL tears, Mauti had a productive season for the Nittany Lions and helped contribute to a season that outperformed almost every expectation that team had. Mauti had 49 solo tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles before his season ended in heart break in the second to last game of his final season, tearing an ACL for the third time in his career. Mauti has provided a great deal for the Penn State program and it is impossible not to root for the kid to get his shot to prove himself on the NFL stage and just getting on the field will be a big accomplishment considering all he has gone through at State College.
6’1 7/8” 243lbs
Mauti is a consistent, form tackler that rarely misses. He consistently wraps up the ball carrier and can hold onto their legs when he slides down to secure the tackle. Mauti plays to the echo of the whistle and never gives up on plays with numerous examples of Mauti making a play on second or third effort. Mauti has flashed the ability to shed blocks but he gets past them far more on effort and outlasting the blocker than shedding them quickly and effectively. This is a testament to how hard he works and how much effort he gives, but something he needs to improve. It also shows that Mauti is rarely on the ground and by being able to stay on his feet, he is able to continue being a factor.
Mauti displays good instincts for the most part against both the run and the pass and has shown he can step in and make a play on passes when teams underestimate him. As long as he does not hesitate when dropping to his zone, he can be effective as a pass defender. He does a good job reading the quarterback’s eyes and flowing to the football to reduce yards after catch. Mauti does a great job of redirecting receivers and not allowing anyone to run free.
Mauti is not going to impress anyone on a track, but his speed is decent when he is running in a straight line and he is able to play a little faster with a combination of instincts and efficient use of movements.
He stands out in punt coverage and appears as someone that can contribute on special teams adding to his viability for teams in the NFL, often being the first player to get to the punt returner on the coverage team.
The first issue is his injury history. Mauti is currently recovering from his third ACL tear in five years. He is incredibly resilient and keeps coming back, but teams will have to see how he checks out with their medical staff to see if they will clear him first and then find out how much he can provide after three serious knee injuries.
No one is going to confuse Mauti for being particularly fast but this stands out more when he is forced to change directions quickly. He is decent when it comes to going in a straight line with a head of steam.
Mauti can get caught flatfooted when he is reading the pass and will sometimes hesitate before getting to his drops as a result. At this point, he appears to be a 2-down linebacker. He can get engulfed by opposing blockers at times and while he fights all the way through the whistle, it can result in him being unable to be a factor in various situations.
Mauti projects as a depth inside linebacker in the 3-4 or the 4-3 who can be a contributor on special teams as well as being a valuable asset to a team’s locker room in terms of he carries himself and just how hard he works on and off the field. His knee issues are a giant hurdle he will need to get over, but if he can do that, he should be a guy that coaches have a difficult time cutting. There was a time when Mauti was considered a potential early round pick and if he can get healthy and stay healthy, he might just be able to work himself back up to that level, but as it is, Mauti figures to be a possibility to go anywhere from the fifth round to undrafted, depending on how teams evaluate his medical.