Games Evaluated: 2019 Vs: USF, Michigan State, Iowa
Report By: Ryan Lippert
Top End Speed: 9.30
The thing that will set Taylor apart from other running backs in this class is his top-end speed. Once he hits the second level, he has the true burst/breakaway speed to simply run away from defenders. He also is very explosive as a runner as he hits the hole hard and has the ability to run through defenders. Taylor also displays great contact balance when running through tackles. As far as quickness and change of direction go, he has enough to succeed at the next level but it won't blow you away.
WITH BALL IN HANDS: 7.44
Cutting Ability: 7.20
Yards After Contact: 8.50
Ball Security: 5.70
I love Taylor's vision as he sees the hole quickly and hits it with a sense of urgency. He also is great at running through tackles and falling forward through contact for extra yards. He has the ability to make cuts and has shown a few moves to make defenders miss in the open field, but again he isn't elite in that area by any means. One of the key flaws that he will have to get better at is ball security. He needs to get better at covering up the ball with both hands when going between the gaps. This showed as he put the ball on the ground too often in college.
Route Running: 6.50
Ability In Space: 6.70
Ability To Separate: 6.70
While he wasn't used a ton in the passing game, he showed at times that he has the ability to be used as a target. He has solid hands, doing a good job of looking the ball in and catching with his hands. As far as route running, he does a decent job of running his routes but they were kept very basic in college. In space, he has the speed to get up the field after the catch and could also use his speed to create separation against linebackers but again, this is something that he will have to prove.
Lead Blocking: 7.00
Blocking In Space: 7.50
Pass Blocking: 8.20
Situational Awareness: 7.30
Taylor is one of the better, if not best pass blocker I have seen in this running back class. He does a great job of stepping up and taking on edge rushers and linebackers. He has shown that he can block them straight up as well as being able to time up cut blocks. Taylor wasn't used much as a lead blocker but after seeing his ability to block in space and in the passing game, I don't see any reason to believe that he couldn't do it if asked to at the next level.
Competitiveness is what teams are going to love when looking at Taylor. His production speaks for itself as he put together one of the best careers from a college running back that we have ever seen. Those numbers were due in large part to his high volume of carries which could negatively affect a lot of backs. However, he always ran the ball extremely hard and kept his high motor going throughout each game. He also showed that he is willing to lay it on the line for his team regardless of what they ask him to do.
He shows great instincts when looking for an opening in the defense as a ball carrier. When a running lane opens, he finds it quickly and hits it. He also shows good instincts as a pass blocker, showing that he knows when to take off and become a target for his quarterback. You also won't see him make the same mistake twice very often as he learns from his bad plays and comes back even harder the next play. As far as versatility goes, Taylor isn't a back that was spread out much in the formation in college so it is something that he will need to show that he can do at the next level.
Taylor finished his career at sixth all-time in the FBS in rushing yards, second in Big Ten history. With that being said, I'd say production is his biggest strength. However, it is more important to look at what led to that production. For a running back of his size and build, Taylor can move once he hits the open field. He has a great ability to accelerate once he hits the second level and has the true breakaway speed to simply run away from defenders. He also has tremendous vision as he finds the open lane quickly and hits it hard. Taylor has also shown that he can use his size and strength to make defenders pay by breaking tackles and picking up extra yards. I also like the motor that Taylor plays with. Throughout his career at Wisconsin, they pounded the ball on the ground with Taylor which can take a toll on some players. However, Taylor always seemed to run hard downhill and didn't take plays off.
One of the biggest weaknesses that Taylor will have to prove himself in at the next level is his ability in the passing game. Wisconsin rarely used him out of the backfield as a reliable target. When he was used in the passing game, he ran very simple routes and didn't blow anyone away with the way that he ran them. However, he did look good catching passes at the combine so this could be a sign that he can contribute in the passing game. He will also need to improve on his ball security. Over his career as a Badger, Taylor fumbled the ball 18 times, losing 15 of them. Another concern that teams may have is the high volume of carries that Taylor took on at Wisconsin. He carried the ball 926 times in three years. This could have obviously taken a toll on his body which could lead to early injury risk in his NFL career.
Jonathan Taylor will forever be remembered as one of the most productive college running backs we have ever seen. He finished his career sixth all-time in the FBS and second in the Big Ten with 6,174 rushing yards. Taylor immediately became a major piece of the Badgers' offense as a freshman, playing in all 14 games and starting in 13. He finished his freshman campaign with 299 carries for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns. This earned him First Team All-Big Ten and Freshman All-American honors. He was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a Doak Walker Award finalist. As a sophomore, Taylor started in all 13 games and carried the ball 307 times. leading the nation with 2,194 yards along with 16 touchdowns. These numbers helped him win the Doak Walker Award while earning First Team All-American and All-Big Ten honors. In his third and final season as a Badger, Taylor continued his dominance, running the ball 320 times for 2,003 yards. He also led the nation in total touchdowns with 26 (21 rushing, 5 receiving). His performance helped him win the Doak Walker Award for the second consecutive year along with First Team All-American and All-Big Ten honors. While there may be other running backs who stand out as more athletic or "shifty", Taylor would still be no lower than my top three running backs in this class. While his high carry volume could be a red flag for some teams, his production and skill set cannot be overlooked. I believe that Taylor will prove that he can handle the workload and be a true feature back for whichever team decides to draft him. I see Taylor being a solid starter and potential Pro Bowl-caliber running back in the league for many years to come. Round Projection: Late 1st-Mid 2nd; Team Fit: Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; NFL Comparison: Nick Chubb