Name: Jawaan Taylor
Position: Offensive Tackle
Taylor is perhaps the best combination of physical specimen and nasty attitude in the draft. His projection range is up and down the first round, but opinion is pretty consistent that his ceiling is as high as any lineman’s this year.
To say Taylor looks the part of an NFL tackle would be an understatement. He is thick and powerful from head to toe and carries little bad weight on his frame. His arms are super-long; they measured at over 35 inches at the combine. Overall, he has the quintessential tackle build.
Upper-body, lower-body, Taylor is jam-packed with functional power. His hits land hard in both the run game and the pass game, and he has no trouble creating movement with strong leg drive. When he locks in, he has the grip strength to maintain hold and the ability to finish his blocks. Taylor’s punches land hard in pass pro and you would be hard-pressed to find singular reps where he gives ground, even when he loses leverage.
Players Taylor’s size should not be able to move as well as he does. He is probably the only tackle prospect who can equal Andre Dillard in this regard. His feet are light and quick, his movements smooth and efficient. Taylor can mirror any manner of pass rusher thanks to a good, deep kick step and excellent change-of-direction. He has the balance to maneuver against quicker opponents in space, and should transition well to any manner of blocking scheme.
Occasional technique issues aside, Taylor’s quickness, power and tenacity rule the day in the run game. He is aggressive out of his stance and looks to finish his man off the snap. His leg drive is consistent and powerful and he is able to use his long arms to lock his hands in and create unbreakable movement. Taylor plays aggressively and always looks to finish. At times, he will come in high or out over his skis, but these reps typically end in draws rather than losses thanks to his tremendous power advantage and quick feet.
Taylor has experience working all sorts of blocks. He down blocks aggressively and effectively, and knows when to move on to the second level. In space, he can move with linebackers to finish them off downfield. Taylor can mirror and seal quicker edge rushers, as well. It is to be seen what sort of puller Taylor will be, but given his quickness, awareness and ferocity, it is safe to assume he can excel in this area. The same goes for zone- and screen-heavy systems.
As in the run game, Taylor’s physical attributes drive him as a pass blocker while technique issues occasionally leave him vulnerable. As stated above, his quickness makes him a nightmare for speed rushers, as he can mirror the quickest of opponents on the edge. His kick step gains good ground without wasted movement. Taylor’s hands are quick and powerful, though he tends to come in a bit high. But again, his tendency to stand up has not been a major detriment due to his physical attributes.
A mild area of concern is Taylor’s propensity to over-set. He has been wont to do it on occasion both inside and outside. Given his history of false start penalties, it probably is more a matter of over-excitement than anything else. See below as he jumps out to meet Montez Sweat, but Sweat cuts back inside and forces the pocket to move.
When he does over-set, Taylor has good enough length and quickness to recover much of the time. He is also proficient at riding speed rushes upfield, if need be. In the clip below from the same game, Taylor’s strong punch throws Sweat off immediately, and Taylor just rides him nowhere near the play.
Florida RT Jawaan Taylor held Montez Sweat in check all game. pic.twitter.com/heBneBob7Z— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 21, 2019
Against bull rushes, Taylor has no issues. He can drop anchor if the rush gains ground, but most opponents would be foolish to attempt to bull rush Taylor. He is simply too long and powerful. Overall, Taylor should step in and be an excellent pass blocker from day one. His weaknesses are coachable and his combination of athleticism, length and awareness is rare for his position.
The signing of Josh Kline gives the Vikings a bit of flexibility on the offensive line, but they are still in search of another starter. Chances are still high that they will find one through the draft. Whether or not that happens in round one, however, is too be seen. Taylor will almost certainly go in the first, and quite possibly top-10. As such, falling to the Vikings would necessitate a somewhat unexpected plummet, but that is not at all out of the realm of possibility, given the variance of opinion about this year offensive line class.
Taylor has the build and quickness ideal for right tackle, but the Vikings may want to ease him into NFL game speed by starting him at guard. Should Taylor play right tackle as he did at Florida, the Vikings would have to maneuver the line a bit. Most notably, Brian O’Neill would likely flip to the left side and Riley Reiff would bump inside to left guard. Regardless, Taylor would bring immediate impact on the starting line with a little added position versatility.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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