Since Chris Petersen took over the Boise State program, they have been successful and put a lot of talent into the NFL draft. Most of these players can be characterized as smart, well coached players that have a healthy chip on their shoulder looking to prove the doubters wrong, from colleges that did not recruit them to NCAA pollsters to the scouting community for the NFL draft. One of the players that fit this characterization is cornerback Jamar Taylor. Taylor is that tough, scrappy, well coached player who contributes everywhere he can as illustrated by his 31 solo tackles, 4 interceptions, 9 passes deflected, 3 forced fumbles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks during his senior year. Boise State has allowed Taylor to show off a ton of different attributes he can bring to the NFL and he appears to have the potential to get better. His ability in coverage as well his as willingness to play the run and hit people on film shows someone who could go in the third round but might slip into the fourth depending on scheme and fit.
Taylor measured in 5í10ĺĒ 192lbs at the Senior Bowl. He looks and plays strong while having a frame that could allow him to continue adding muscle at the next level without hurting his athleticism. He has great feet and displays impressive acceleration and periodically flashes good top end speed. Taylor appears like someone who could surprise people with an impressive performance at the combine and his pro day. He shows flashes of being a remarkably smooth athlete on the tape.
Taylor is an aggressive tackler who is not afraid to take on the biggest of ball carriers. This was clear when the Broncos took on Michigan State and Taylor kept making good tackles on LeíVeon Bell. When he attacks, Taylor is a good, physical tackler who can hit with some pop. The problem is when he has to try to negotiate a blocker to make the tackle. While trying to avoid getting blocked, he will end up taking himself out of the play or get himself blocked out easily. Instead, he should keep that attacking mentality and try to make the tackle through the block or knock the blocker back so that the runner has to go around him and his teammates can make the tackle instead. His current method, while occasionally working to slow down the runner slightly, is ineffective. Overall, Taylor is a guy who is a good tackler for the position and there are teams and schemes that will like him on the outside as a guy who can be relied upon to protect the edge.
In coverage, Taylor offers teams versatility and options. He is an effective, physical press corner who can turn and run with receivers well and stay in their hip pocket. Taylor has also demonstrated he can be effective in zone or playing off man who has great acceleration to break on the football and excels coming forward toward the line of scrimmage to make plays on the football. Occasionally, he can get lost in zone and is more effective in man bulldogging receivers, but this is an area he can improve in the pros. Taylor locates the ball effectively and tracks the deep ball well, but needs to improve his ball skills. He had 4 interceptions as this past season, but he had opportunities for several others he could not capitalize. To his credit, he gets in on a lot of plays and puts himself in position to make plays on the ball. He is effective when it comes to poking his arm in between the receiver and the ball and deflecting passes. When he does intercept passes, he is a threat on the return with 154 yards over the past two years.
Taylor can also come off the edge as a blitzer and his ability to hit can really show up when he lays the wood on an unsuspecting quarterback. He is explosive off the edge and gets there in a hurry with bad intentions. Not only does he hit with power, but he is smart enough to go for the football at the same time so that the quarterback is going to know he was hit but he may lose the ball too. And this is another area that works in Taylorís favor; he is looks to knock the ball loose and has forced six fumbles in his career at Boise State.
The best fit for Taylor is in a Cover-2 system or a scheme that wants their corners to press and man up on receivers with some help over the top. Taylor can play in a zone based scheme, but he seems to thrive on man coverage and direct competition. He is extremely confident and will do a lot of talking that borders on brash, but that seems to be a way to keep himself engaged and motivated in the game. He is incredibly competitive and teams and teammates will love it. While Taylor could come in and start immediately in a few systems, it would not be surprising if he came in as a nickel corner and had to work his way up to starting on the outside. It should be when, not if he ends up starting as long as he continues improving and can tap into a sizeable amount of potential. It is important to note that while Taylor has shown promise in the areas mentioned, there is nothing he has shown he really cannot do; simply that he has not been asked to do it.
Jamar Taylorís game and how he is going to enter the league are reminiscent of Ronde Barber. Barber entered the league coming out of Virginia as a third round pick to the Buccaneers and has flourished in their Tampa-2 scheme. Not only has he been a factor in pass coverage but he has been a contributor on run defense and had 28 sacks in his career. These are all areas that Taylor has shown he can impact and in a similar system as Barber has done throughout his career. Barber is the type of player that Taylor could become if everything goes right for him, but it seems difficult for him to come in and be any less than a player like former USC Trojan and Cleveland Brown Daylon McCutcheon. McCutcheon was also a third round pick who came to Cleveland and played both on the outside and in the slot in nickel. He played with that same toughness that Taylor does and was a guy who was not afraid to come up and make plays in the running game while being a solid but unspectacular cover corner who had a seven year career.
Jamar Taylor brings a good, varied skill set to the NFL in addition to a tenacious, competitive attitude that could fuel him to be successful in the NFL. In addition, he plays with a level of toughness and ferocity many corners do not and that willingness to attack and be aggressive while having the ability to cover on the outside could him stand out in the NFL draft process. While Boise State was not a threat to play the role of BCS buster this year, they nevertheless had players with talent and Taylor appears to have plenty for the next level if he can continue to work and improve his game. Sadly for Taylor, an illness forced him to pull out of the Senior Bowl week and he was not able to showcase his talent much against some of the best receivers in the draft. Taylor will still have opportunities to prove himself and the next will be the Combine where he could put up a nice showing. Taylorís all around package of tools and potential could be attractive to quite a few teams, but he could end up going earlier to a team that values corners who can press, contribute in the running game, and hit and may go in the third round but only a slight chance of sliding out of the fourth round based on the tape.
Michigan State & Washington 2012
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