Carolina Panthers rookie offensive lineman Cade Mays was a kind of journeyman in college. He began his career with Georgia and spent two years as a starter with the Bulldogs before moving to Tennessee, a return to his hometown of Knoxville. At both stops, he played down the entire offensive line and recorded prime time at all five spots.
“I feel like I can help this team wherever they put me, in each of the five seats,” Mays said. per Carolina’s official website. “I think that’s important in my opinion. Being a guy who can play all five is important to me. I want to know what everyone is doing, from right tackle to left tackle. It’s just really important when someone goes to the ground. In college, if left tackle was down and I was at right guard, I would go left tackle; that’s the way it had to be.”
The Panthers drafted Mays, once considered a potential first-round pick, as the No. 199 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Mays signed his rookie contract with the Panthers May 10 and began rookie camp Thursday afternoon . He said in a press conference after the session that he prefers the increased workload of rookie camp, thanks to the small number of players in attendance, to the preparation for the NFL Combine and the individual training sessions that are standard in the drafting process.
“As an O-lineman, that’s what you’re doing for sure,” Mays said. “They love football. You love what you do. And the Underwear Olympics, that’s not your forte. Play ball. That’s what we’re here for.”
After cornerback, Mays was one of five Vols selected in the 2022 NFL Draft Alontae Taylor (saints), Velus Jones Jr. (Bears) and defenders Matthew Butler (raiders). Former Tennessee defenseman Theo Jackson (Titans).
Mays signed with Georgia at Knoxville, Tennessee Catholic High School in 2018. The 247Sports Composite ranked him #22 nationally, #3 offensive tackle, and #1 in Tennessee state. He appeared in 11 games with seven starts as a freshman at Georgia and earned the FWAA Freshman All-American Honors while serving time as both a right guard and left tackle. In 2019, he appeared in all 14 of Georgia’s games, spending time as a right guard, right tackle, left guard, and left tackle.
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Moving to Tennessee in 2020, Mays began his career with the Vols, where he worked primarily at right flank, but he started 10 games at right tackles last season while dealing with injury woes.