Not sure if any of you have heard of the Scouting Academy, but I am enrolled in the current semester. We have completed a few weeks already and have begun our position modules. The first position group I chose is defensive line - I will do linebackers and defensive backs in that order.
Taking a close look at the all 22 film and studying Mazi in the roughly 41 snaps he played revealed a lot that is easy to miss watching broadcast and reading the box score. Unfortunately, that is often the case in the trenches. Sure we'd love to see him stuff the stat sheet and be on the highlight reels, but that isn't the reality of the job he has been asked to do to this point.
Mazi's strength was all the rage in the draft process, as he piled extra weights onto machines in the Michigan training room. This strength has been evident in game already. In all 3 games Mazi was pushing OL back, routinely throwing OL to the ground in fact, which isn't as regular an occurrence as you'd believe. He regularly fights to, through and after the whistle, bringing a little more of the competitive toughness that we seem to have lacked for so long.
Run stoppers are each assigned a gap (or 2 depending on scheme) to fill or press in order to take away lanes for HBs to cut up field. Success in the run game therefore often sees the HB bouncing out away from your gap (since it is filled) in search of another gap to cut up field. So, by the very nature of doing his job an interior DL wouldn't make many tackles on HBs with vision and patience to look for the next hole.
HBs look at the helmets of DL and OL to determine which player has leverage in the gap. Mazi had his helmet, and more, routinely on the play side of the defender trying to block him. This would keep HBs from trying the gaps Mazi was responsible for, thus funneling them into other gaps for teammates to wrap up and finish the play.
I think it will become more evident over time just how well Mazi is playing but for now I am impressed with his indoctrination into the NFL. He does also flash some quickness that shows some promise, he knifed around OL and into the backfield on one play against Arizona that stands out in particular.
I intend to do a proper scouting report / summary of Mazi when I get more time - likely after the semester at the Scouting Academy is completed because it is a ton of work, but I really wanted to pop in and tell you guys what I saw when I watched 58 on tape. Let me know if you got any questions or want a quick summary on anyone else. I have been watching all 22 of every game on both sides of the ball for years now, but the perspective gained from the Academy has been awesome.