40: 5.20 (estimated)
Has got massive size and flashes excellent short-area power to press the pocket. Flashes potential as a bull rusher, and also has a decent swim move. Has the size you want to anchor and get leverage vs. the run, and is hard to move off the ball. Shows ability to be a factor in short yardage, showing nice upfield burst to get penetration and leverage. Has strength and size to fight through double teams and anchor. Moves well for size and flashes surprising range at times.
Lacks burst upfield and is not a major factor as a pass rusher. At times can be neutralized by double teams. Too easily redirected and wall off by interior blockers at times. Struggles to get off blocks and does use his hands well to disengage. Lacks technique, and needs to improve his hand use and placement on his bull rush to be more effective. Has a tendency to try and run around blocks. Needs to improve his conditioning and motor can be lacking at times. Doesn't do a great job keeping his feet and balance in the middle. Not consistent snap to snap and plays a bit soft at times. Lacks a great motor and shuts it down once a ballcarrier is out of range.
The main issue with Taylor is his conditioning and keeping his weight under control. But even at 337 at the Senior Bowl, people noted that his conditioning wasn't great. Taylor began his career at Penn State, where he started to emerge as a sophomore with 20 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks despite being limited early in the year with a sprained knee. But he got into a brawl with several other Penn State players during the season at the school's student union, and was suspended from the team during the spring. He eventually pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. But while he was away from the team's facilities, his weight began to balloon. He got into another fight at a pool party during that summer which got him kicked off the team. He transferred to Baylor, but was 385 when he arrived there. He slimmed down to 365 before playing his first game with them. That year he had 25 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and 0.5 sacks, although most of that production came in the first 3 games (13-2-0.5) before a turf toe injury limited his effectiveness as the season wore on. He still managed to play in 12 games, but only made 9 starts. Came back slimmer as a senior (listed at 340, but probably closer to 350), moved to nose tackle and had his best year with 62 tackles, 7 for loss, and 2 sacks. Also for his career at Baylor, he had 1 interception and 2 blocked kicks.
When Taylor is relatively slim, he plays harder and better. He needs to have incentives and clauses written into his contract that will motivate him to stay in shape during the off-season. And that's the main issue that you're going to have to deal with, as when you get him away from football, he's struggled to maintain weight. The best weight for him is probably staying in the 330-340 range, but as long as he's under 350 you should be OK. He's raw and probably not as consistent as you want, but he flashes the potential to be a dominant power player inside. I think his success in the pros will be tied to his conditioning and him staying in shape, because then he can be more focused and should take better to coaching that he needs to maximize his talent level. He's not a player that is going to come in right away and impact. He'll flash tools early on, but his technique and hands need to be improved to a level where he can more consistently dominate centers one on one. He played defensive tackle in their 4-man front mainly as a junior, but his future is purely as a nose tackle in a 3-4. He'll be a nice rotational player early on in his career, similar to someone like Gabe Watson in Arizona. But Watson never developed into a consistent force as a starter in Arizona, and is a much better backup that can rotate with a better starter. And I think Taylor might have a career like that. He'll get opportunities even if he doesn't work out because teams will always covet guys with his combo of size and athleticism. After all, JImmy Kennedy a bust for the Rams, drafted in 2003, is still a decent backup now with the Vikings. At this point in time, I see that he could become a very good starter for a team upon reaching his second contract like an Aubrayo Franklin or Ma'ake Kemoeatu, both of whom were developed by the Ravens and the 49ers and Panthers took advantage. I think going to a team like that where he can grow into a role over time would best suit him, particularly a team that has strong veteran leadership that will keep him better motivated than just coaches and trainers can to maintain his conditioning during the off-season. Overall, Taylor is a boom/bust prospect that could be a very good 3-4 nose tackle down the road, or he could be a career backup and underachiever. If I had to guess what part of the spectrum he falls on, it's as a guy that will have to split reps. Whether he's technically the starter or backup really doesn't matter since he's going to play around 30 snaps per game, splitting time with a player of similar caliber in order to get the job done.
Taylor isn't a good fit in Atlanta because he's not as adept playing multiple techniques. He'd have to slim down considerably, and the potential of him maintaining that weight long-term is slim and none. To play for the Falcons and excel in their scheme, he'd probably couldn't be a pound over 320. And short of him completely adopting Tony Gonzalez All-Pro diet, that's just not going to happen.
For a 3-4 team looking for a developmental nose tackle, he merits a pick in the latter half of the second round. But because of his potential to bust, he would be even better value in the third round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.5
Pass Rush: 2.0
Scouting reports of the defensive tackles in the 2011 Draft.
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