NFL Draft: Q&A with Stanford Defensive End Josh Mauro
By Dan Dahlke
Stanford Cardinal defensive end Josh Mauro (90) sacks and causes Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12). Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We’ve already heard from some very talented defensive players this week in Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon and Pitt’s Aaron Donald, but today, we hear from Stanford’s Josh Mauro, a player with years of experience as a 3-4 defensive end and a guy that seems would be a natural fit in the Packers defense.
Mauro started all 13 games at defensive end for the Cardinal in 2013, earning All-Pac 12 honorable mention. The Texas native played well against the run, recording 51 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss, and provided some pressure on the edge, finishing the year with four sacks and five quarterback pressures.
On a Stanford defense with high profile players like Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov, Mauro provided a consistent presence in the Cardinals front seven and developed into the reliable anchor of the group.
Mauro may not always get the credit he deserves, but anyone watching Stanford last year knows that the Cardinal defensive end flashed big-time ability, while doing all the little things on the field to help improve the players around him.
Mauro is a tough, harding working, team-first guy, and I hope after hearing from him today, you’ll see he’s a player who could fit well in Green Bay.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what led you to play defensive end for Stanford?
JM: I was born in Hemel Hempstead, England, and lived there until I was three years old. My family moved to Texas in the Dallas Fort-Worth area and I grew up there through high school. My family still lives there and that is home to me.
Stanford Cardinal defensive end Josh Mauro (90) tackles Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7). Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
I chose Stanford after visiting the campus and seeing the direction the program was headed. At the time they were only 5-7 my senior year of high school, but I knew with the players in my recruiting class as well as the other great young leaders already in place, like Andrew Luck and David DeCastro, that we could be a top-tier team.
I played both tight end and defensive end in high school and Stanford wanted me to come play defensive end for them. I honestly fell in love with the position after only playing it one year in high school because it gave me the ability to tenaciously attack the offense play in and play out.
Q. What is your favorite memory at Stanford?
JM: My favorite memory at Stanford was winning the 2013 Rose Bowl. Just the feeling of accomplishment with all of my teammates/brothers on the field and in the locker room after that game will be with me for the rest of my life.
Q. With May steadily approaching, what will the next few months look like for you as you prepare for the draft? Any specific thing you’d like to prove to scouts?
JM: This past month and for the next two I have and will continue to optimize my strength, athleticism, flexibility, and knowledge of the game so that I can put myself in a position to contribute at the next level and help whatever team selects me to win ball games. I’d like to show scouts that I can bend and surprise some of them with my athleticism for a player my size.
Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) is tackled by Stanford Cardinal defensive end Josh Mauro (90). Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Q. You played defensive end in Stanford’s 3-4 defense. Where do you see yourself fitting in the NFL?
JM: I’ve played 3-4 defensive end the past four years and have grown to love that position. I think that is my natural position although I am more than capable of playing 4-3 defensive end as well. I just want to be versatile enough at the next level to plug in at multiple positions to contribute and help my team win.
Q. What are your the strengths of your game, and what’s an area you’d like to really work on improving going into the NFL?
JM: The strengths of my game are my strength at the point of attack, my relentlessness to the football, knowledge of the game, and ability to track the ball down the field or sideline to sideline. I want to improve on my flexibility and pad level so that I don’t give opposing offensive linemen as big of a target to hold.
Q. The Packers will be looking to improve their front seven going into the draft. First, how would you feel being drafted by Green Bay this spring, and second, what would you bring to their defense?
JM: It would be an absolute privilege and honor to play for such a vaunted franchise like the Green Bay Packers. The way they run their team and the overall fan/community support is definitely elite in both regards. I would bring a versatile, tenacious defensive lineman to their team that has played everywhere on the field in college from nose tackle to 9-technique.
Stanford Cardinal defensive end Ben Gardner (49) tags quarterback Brett Nottingham (7) for a sack with defensive end Josh Mauro (90) during the cardinal and white spring game. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Q. How do you see yourself fitting in their defense, and what kind of player would they be getting?
JM: I could see myself playing defensive end in their 3-4 scheme as well as three-technique in 3rd down situations. They would be getting a versatile and relentless defensive lineman that would do anything necessary to help the team win. I’m willing to play any position and do anything in my power to help the team win.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most underrated part of your game, and why do you think it has been overlooked up to this point?
JM: I think my pass rush ability is overlooked at times due to the fact that a lot of teams used slide protection against us at Stanford. Very rarely were we able to rush one-on-one, and I think that is overlooked at times when the film is on.
Q. Are there any NFL players you study or try to model your game after?
JM: J.J. Watt and Justin Smith are both great players for me to watch because they both play in a 3-4 scheme as well. Both of those players, although unique in their own respects, free up a lot of other guys on the defense and really find ways to disrupt offenses. I’ve watched some film on both but would love to spend more time perfecting their techniques so that I could emulate their production.
Q. Were there any players you watched growing up that inspired you to play football?
JM: Ray Lewis was my inspiration growing up just because of the passion he brought to the field every single game. I loved the way he led his team vocally as well as through his tenacious play on the field.
Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
JM: When I’m away from football I enjoy relaxing, hanging out with my family and friends, playing video games, and sleeping.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you?
JM: I’d like the Packers fans to know that I’m willing to do anything to help my team win and would play any position on offense, defense, or special teams to get that “W” every week.
Career college stats
• 2013 – 51 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 5 QB hurries, 2 FF, and an INT
• 2012 – 19 tackles, 7 TFL, and 5 sacks
• 2011 – 4 tackles, 2 TFL, and 2 sacks
• 2010 – 7 tackles