Virginia Tech Senior
40: 4.50 (estimated)
Very good athleticism and a very strong arm, able to throw the ball 50 yards down the field without setting his feet. Has the zip and arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows. Very good when he's allowed to move around and does a good job improvising. Able to roll to his left or right and be effective. Does a good job creating with his legs. Keeps his eyes downfield when he's scrambling, always looking for that receiver to break off his route and make the play. Very dangerous runner when he gets to the second level because of his speed and ability to make guys miss in the open field. Has the flexibility and comfort to audible at the line on occasion. Does a nice job recognizing the blitz and making good reads. Knows how to check down. Flashes good accuracy and touch at times, able to lead his receivers and shows touch on the vertical throws. Will flash emotion at times and willing to chew out his teammates when they need a kick in the ants.
Lack of size hurts him, particularly in the pocket. Has trouble seeing throwing lanes. Takes too long going through his progressions and holds onto the ball too long. Rarely goes to his second read and usually when he does will tuck it and run first. Gets happy feet in the pocket when his first read isn't there. Stares down his receivers, doesn't show good anticipation, and waits for guys to get open. Has a tendency to trust his arm strength to fit into tight windows, which means he doesn't have to lead guys and anticipate. Only seems to throw it away when there are no running lanes. Will take some sacks outside the pocket because he's waiting for guys to break open downfield. At times will start to look at the pressure when he's blitzed. Not as effective against the blitz because of the Hokie offense having a lot of long-developing routes which leaves him out to dry at times. Tends to take a lot of deep drops and may struggle being a 3-stepper at the next level. His accuracy is erratic as he can miss on some easy throws. Will float some passes over the middle or to the sideline. Doesn't lead receivers and his touch downfield can be off. Doesn't always set his feet.
Taylor is another in the line of Vick-like QBs that Virginia Tech has recruited over the past decade, and he is probably second only to the originator in terms of talent and his NFL future. A full-time starter for three years, he proved to be a productive collegiate passer. He's grown over the years and has improved each season. Had his best season this past year, going 11-3 as a starter, and completing 59.7% of his 315 attempts for 2743 yards, 24 touchdowns (all career highs) with only 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 659 yards and 5 rushing scores. For his career, he has a 34-7 record as a starter, with 57.2% completions on 865 attempts for 7017 yards, 44 TDs, and 20 INTs. Has also rushed for 2196 yards and 23 TDs. Missed some time as a sophomore with an injured ankle.
While I could sit here and compare Taylor to Vick very easily, a more apt comparison to what kind of NFL player he will be is probably Troy Smith. Like both of those guys, Taylor lacks height and will probably never be comfortable throwing from the pocket. That is the one area of his game that has improved very little over his Hokie career, and while he definitely does make better decisions with the ball than he did in his youth and is definitely more comfortable running an offense, he still has a long clock in his head, doesn't go to his second progression well, and is more comfortable outside the pocket than within it. If Taylor gets at least two or three years to sit and learn and get comfortable in a system, I think he can be a capable NFL starter. He's coachable and with enough time in the film room will be able to manage an NFL offense. I don't think the coaches at VT really tried to work on him, particularly when it came to going through multiple progressions. It was an offense that was one read, and then scramble around until somebody gets open. But as is the case with those other two QBs, ultimately he trusts his legs far more than his head and arm. At the pro level, he's going to struggle to complete 60% of his passes. The best offense for him is going to be one that plays a lot of shotgun, a lot of deep drops, but also mixes in a lot of checkdowns, screens, and easy throws. One that is going to want to get him out on the edge and make plays with his legs. Ultimately, like Smith, Taylor can provide a spark to a struggling offense, but unless you have a strong running game and defense to take pressure off him, he's not going to be a guy that can efficiently and consistently manage an NFL offense to peak efficiency. So I think like SMith, he's going to be a guy that will get opportunities as a starter and journeyman, but no team or coach is going to be completely comfortable going all in with him as the starter from the beginning of the season. On a bad team that lacks playmakers on the outside, he'll be a better fit because he can make some of those plays. But for a team that has talent and needs someone to really manage the game well, he'll take away more than he brings. And ultimately all that means is he'll get opportunities as a backup, but won't be able to stick long-term as a starter. If some team tries to use him as a slash player that gets some work at quarterback, running back, and receiver sort of like Brad Smith, then they have better opportunity to maximize his talent. Taylor is coachable, and he doesn't strike me as the guy that is going to pout if he is not solely a quarterback, so I think he would definitely be open to such a role as long as he was still getting reps at quarterback.
Taylor would be a nice developmental backup for the Falcons because of his athleticism and playmaking ability. But truthfully, the Falcons would be better off trying to make him into more of a slash-player than truly trying to develop him as a true quarterback. Some wildcat, some work at wide receiver sort of what the Falcons had with Woody Dantzler oh so many years ago is probably the best way to get the most out of Taylor in a Falcon uniform, since he doesn't have the upside to really merit a high pick via trade down the road.
For a team that is looking to use him in a slash role and will be committed to working him there, a fourth round pick is probably in order. For a team looking for a backup QB to develop, they are probably better off waiting until the fifth round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Arm Strength: 4.0
Decision Making: 2.5
Pocket Awareness: 1.5
Scouting reports of the quarterbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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