Could Byron Maxwell Be a Fit in Detroit?
A Legion of Boom defector who came home after a couple of false starts abroad, Byron Maxwell heads to free agency for the second time in his career. After excelling as the number two opposite Richard Sherman, Maxwell cashed in with a $63 million dollar deal to lead a revamped secondary for the Chip Kelly Eagles.
Less than a year and a regime change later, Howie Roseman shipped Maxwell and his bloated contract off to Miami. He started at cornerback for all of 2016 before he was cut two games into last season. Maxwell returned to Seattle on a one-year deal this year and filled in at left cornerback for an injured Richard Sherman. He primarily played outside in a Cover 3 defense that also employed Man principles.
Maxwell has good size with a thick frame and long arms with adequate athletic ability through good change of direction, adequate quickness, and marginal acceleration.
Maxwell lines up and stays square at the line of scrimmage with good physicality in his initial jab. He has enough quickness to cover timing routes over the middle of the field. Maxwell can sift through traffic on rub routes, and doesn’t bite on double moves. He’s able to squeeze vertical routes into the sideline with the buildup speed to stay in phase with faster receivers downfield.
In Zone, he plays with eyes to the quarterback and splits the difference between routes. He can come in like a missile to make the hit and jar the ball loose. When he’s beat, he’s quick to make the tackle after the catch.
You pay corners to cover, but good run defense is nice. Maxwell fits that description. A disciplined player in run support, Maxwell can identify where the play is going quickly and avoid blockers in space. He shoots a strong arm into the chest of receivers to maintain his outside position and force the ball in. Trained to execute the Hawk Tackle in Seattle, Maxwell can go head up with the Todd Gurley’s and Leonard Fournette’s of the world by going low and wrapping up well and rarely misses.
Seattle cornerbacks are known for their work in press, but Maxwell would probably like to forget his work at the line of scrimmage in 2017. He lacks precision with his timing and placement with his hands. Against stutter releases, he’s quick to open his hips early and lose inside leverage to get beat on Slants and Crossers and lacks the closing speed to make up for it. He lacks the twitch to defend the two-way go from the slot.
Maxwell will chase receivers into the middle of the field and fails to pick up later developing routes in his area playing with outside responsibility in Zone. He can play too high up from a bail, leaving him vulnerable against Comebacks/Stops/Curls. His ball skills are lacking. Maxwell doesn’t get his head around in Man and fails to time his attempts to disrupt the catch.
Maxwell is likely to face a soft market this go-around in free agency. He’d fit well playing outside in a Man-based scheme where he can cover bigger receivers and leverage his run defense. He’d be a good backup cornerback who you can feel comfortable playing with to get you through an injury. With Matt Patricia’s interest in corners with size like Logan Ryan and Stephon Gilmore, he could be a potential target on a low-market deal.