In Wisconsin’s long history of great running backs we’ve seen career rushing and touchdown records set and broken. But not since Ron Dayne has a Wisconsin running back done what Jonathan Taylor is doing. Taylor stepped in a true freshman rushing for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns before surpassing those marks during his sophomore year. Now entering his junior year Taylor is looking to replicate those numbers. Here we’ll take a look at Jonathan Taylor NFL Draft potential.
What Jonathan Taylor Does Well
A hard runner Jonathan Taylor uses good vision and quick lateral cuts to make defenders miss and get to openings to reel off big numbers. If we use baseball terms, Taylor isn’t going to hit many home runs but instead he’ll reel off plenty of doubles. Meaning Taylor doesn’t have the long speed to consistently get giant runs, but he has the quickness and burst to hit holes and get chunk gains. And while elite speed is great to have, it’s no requirement to have success in the NFL. Instead Taylor can see blocks developing and use that lateral quickness to make a move to get there or to avoid a defender in the hole. His high level intelligence and skill set does him well whether it’s in a zone or man blocking scheme.
Jonathan Taylor Concerns
We all know that the NFL is a passing league and that doesn’t mean bell cow running backs do not have a place. But if you want to be considered an elite back or someone that can stay on the field on all three downs you need to be able to catch the ball. Wisconsin’s offense doesn’t call for the running back to get a ton of catches and like Melvin Gordon, there will be some concern about his hands just like there was for Gordon’s. With only 16 career receptions there is some evidence but it’s not like he’s running very complex routes.
Another big concern for Taylor is the tread on his tires and the body shots he’s accumulated. Now Taylor doesn’t take a ton of big hits, but he has 606 carries in two years and is in line for another 300 this upcoming year. With over 900 career carries it a lot and will cause some NFL teams worries that Taylor may not make it very long in the NFL.
Whether it is Melvin Gordon, James White or Corey Clement, Wisconsin running backs have enjoyed some recent success in the NFL. Taylor is the top prospect to come out since Gordon and figures to be in the same category rather than White or Clement who were both late round prospects. His complete package will be viewed as a feature runner to NFL teams. It wouldn’t shock me to see Taylor be taken in the first round, but his skill set and previous drafts indicate he’s more likely a second round pick.