There was no reason to believe when the Buffalo Bills selected Aaron Maybin with the 11th overall pick in 2009 that he would be a bust. He had been wildly productive at Penn State as a tall, athletic defensive end but now, after what he admits were two disappointing seasons, Maybin is taking second team reps at training camp and trying to prove himself worthy of playing time.
"Physically, the game has never been hard for me," he said. "It's a matter of me convincing my coaching staff that I'm the guy who needs to be out there for the majority of the snaps."
For two seasons, Maybin has given the Bills little reason to believe he can be productive with increased minutes. Maybin is only 23 and too young to write off completely, but it's time for him to provide proof that the franchise didn't waste a draft pick that could have been easily used on either Brian Orakpo or Brian Cushing.
"Disappointing," Maybin said about his first two seasons with the Bills. "That's all I have to say: Disappointing. But it's behind me and I'm looking forward now. I don't spend too much time in interviews talking about the past two years and I don't spend too much time thinking about the past two years."
Which is good, because they weren't memorable.
Drafted out of Penn State because of his ability as a pass rusher, Maybin has yet to record his first career sack. Playing as a 4-3 defensive end as a rookie in '09, he played only 21 percent of the team's snaps. Because of his build, many believed Maybin would excel as a 3-4 linebacker, yet he made an appearance in only 87 plays a year ago and was inactive for five consecutive weeks. Maybin has a career total of 24 tackles.
"I'm going to keep on working and once they put me on the field, everything is going to take care of itself," Maybin said. "At the end of the day, that's all you can do. I come to work every day and I work hard, at the end of the day everything else is not in your control. I try and put my best foot forward and everything else will fall into place like it always has."
No one can question Maybin's work ethic and conditioning. His body fat is undetectable and his offseason training consists of mixed martial arts, yoga and different workouts in a swimming pool.
"I have some unconventional ways of working out and some things that my trainers use," he said. "I feel I always stay in the best of shape and when we get back after a long summer I'm ready to compete."
That said, Maybin's build may not be suited to withstand the pounding needed for the position. Tall and slender from the waist down, Maybin looks like a guard -- a shooting guard. He weighed in at 250 pounds at the NFL Combine two years ago and is now listed at 228, although he says he's 240.
"It's not hard for me to keep weight on but my weight fluctuates," he said. "I have a crazy metabolism where I can either gain 10 pounds in a day or lose 10 pounds in a day, it's just a matter of me making sure I keep everything on an even keel."
Maybin has a high motor but isn't instinctive as a run-defender or as a pass-rusher. That's what's keeping him off the field.
"Aaron tries hard every time he walks onto the field, the key for him is being productive on the field," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "He's got to become a consistent player versus the run and a consistent pass rusher. And he's got work to do. He's not there yet so we'll see how he continues to develop. He's got a long way to go."
Maybin said things are coming easier for him.
"I feel technique wise I'm more comfortable and I'm recognizing plays a lot more," he said. "That comes with age and it's my third year in so there are things I've seen this year that I didn't see my first couple of years. It's a constant process."
A process where time is running out.