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AFC East's best: No. 19 Jerod Mayo

By Tim Graham

MayoMugA countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo has some hardware. He was voted defensive rookie of the year in 2008. After a knee injury hampered him for much of 2009, he came back with a vengeance.

In 2010, Mayo was voted team captain, led the NFL in tackles, was selected first-team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl. He recorded two sacks, forced one fumble and recovered three.

Then came last season. The Patriots switched to a 4-3 base defense. Mayo missed a couple games with an injury. His production suffered. Tackles aren't an official stat; the NFL tallies them unofficially through its game reports, but teams keep their own numbers. But for an apples-to-apples comparison, if you add up the NFL game reports from 2010, Mayo amassed a league-best 175 tackles, but last season he had just 95 tackles, tied for 46th in the league. He had one sack, although he did snag the first two interceptions of his career.

Still, Mayo remains one of the NFL's best defenders. He had 11 tackles and forced a fumble in the Super Bowl. Even though the New York Giants played one more postseason game than the Patriots did, Mayo led everybody with 28 postseason tackles for a defense that allowed an average of 16.3 points a game.

Fast fact

As a senior at Kecoughtan High in Hampton, Va., Mayo played seven games at running back. He rushed for 1,245 yards and scored 13 touchdowns and five two-point conversions.

How acquired

Selected in the first round (10th overall) of the 2008 draft.

Hint about No. 18

The first offensive skill player on the list is coming off the best season of his career. (EDIT: Earlier, I accidentally printed the hint for an upcoming player on the list. This one is correct. My apologies.)

Picks to date

19. Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebacker
20. Randy Starks, Dolphins defensive lineman
21. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots right tackle
22. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots tight end
23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |