Summary: Taylor spent the last three years as one of the most underrated players in college football. He was the bell-cow back for Stanford over that time and did a lot of the dirty work for the team's offense. While teammates like Andrew Luck, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin received more attention, Taylor was the consistent producer on the ground who helped those players to thrive.
Taylor had his first 1,000-yard season in 2010, racking up 1,137 yards on the ground (5.1 average) and 15 touchdowns. The sophomore also caught 28 passes for 266 yards and a score. In Luck's last season in 2011, the Cardinal ran a ball-control offense that featured Taylor has much as any other player. The underappreciated back averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2011, rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Taylor carried the Stanford offense in 2012 since Luck, DeCastro and Martin are now the NFL. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry for 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns. The senior totaled 41 receptions for 287 yards with two scores through the air, too.
Taylor demonstrated three-down ability with his blocking and receiving. As a runner, he pounded the ball between the tackles and picked up a lot of yards after contact. Taylor used his power to frequently broke tackles and get more yards after contact. He isn't the fastest of backs, but he broke off some long runs during his collegiate career and has underrated quickness.
Taylor was one of the standouts at the 2013 Senior Bowl. He was superb as a pass-protector since the Stanford coaching staff has groomed him nicely for the NFL to be a good blitz blocker and keep his quarterback safe. Taylor also had success on the ground in Mobile. While he isn't fast, he showed enough quickness to hit the hole before it closes.
Taylor didn't run well in the field drills at the Combine, but he did look polished as a receiver. Taylor is not a track athlete, but he was quick in college and did have a number of long touchdown runs where he ran a way from the defense and wasn't caught from behind.
Taylor could start off in the NFL as a situational back. He should be an instant asset in pass protection as a blocker and receiver. If Taylor never turns into a starting running back, he should at least be a good contributor in the passing offense. Taylor is a well-rounded back who could be a starter in the NFL if he proves to be fast enough for the pro game. He is tough, physical and a grinder back who enter the next level having thrived in a West Coast offense.
If Taylor was faster he would go in the first couple of rounds. As it stands now, he could go in the third round or go early in the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Kevin Faulk. While Faulk was never a superstar back, he did a lot of grunt work for the Patriots. Faulk was a valuable receiver out of the backfield and did a good job in pass protection for Tom Brady. Over 13 seasons, Faulk proved himself to be functional back as part of a rotation. Taylor is bigger than Faulk (5-8, 202), and Taylor should be a back like him at the worst. Taylor could provide more running ability than Faulk did for the Patriots. In the NFL, Taylor may never be a highly touted feature back, but he could be an asset as a situational back like Faulk was for New England.
NFL Matches: Cincinnati, Green Bay, Denver, Atlanta, New York Jets, Arizona, San Diego
Any team looking for running back depth could consider Taylor on the second day or the mid-rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. Taylor would be a good back in a stable of runners.
Cincinnati may have the biggest need at running back of any team in the NFL. If the Bengals don't use one of their first three picks on a back, they could consider Taylor in the third round.
Taylor would be a perfect fit in the Packers' offense. He would be a good pass-protector and receiver for Aaron Rodgers while also providing more downhill-running ability for Green Bay. With his one-cut style, Taylor wold be perfect in the team's zone-blocking scheme. He could be a nice impact pick in the mid-rounds.
The same goes for Atlanta. They run a zone-blocking scheme that Taylor would fit well. He also would be a good contributor in the Falcons' passing offense with his ability to protect the quarterback and catch passes. Atlanta has a short-term starter in Steven Jackson, but Taylor could be a nice complement.
Denver head coach John Fox likes a running back-by-committee approach. Taylor could combine with Ronnie Hillman in the long term to lead the Broncos' stable of backs. As a pass-protector for Peyton Manning, Taylor would be a great fit.
New York needs a starting running back and Taylor could have three-down ability. The Jets have so many needs that he could be a good fit for them on the third day.
The Cardinals could use a running back, and Taylor would be a nice fit in Bruce Arians' offense. Taylor is similar to Vick Ballard, who had a good year for Arians in 2012 as a rookie with the Colts.
The Chargers could use some running back depth behind Ryan Mathews. The durable Taylor would be a nice fit for San Diego.
I have no problems with your mock draft for the Raiders. I'm sure you're aware of the need at MLB, but doubling up on defensive tackles would make as much sense given the lack of pass rush outside of Mack.
@jsemmens I've been to the Big Board in the past, but it's still an inefficient way of going about a mock. Not to mention, reports and the people writing them change, no? I come to Walt's site because I used to like his insight on every player. Now, it's simply team needs and a very limited amount of actual analysis. You definitely need SOME amount of explanation behind a pick with regards to team need, but you need much more of the player evaluation angle. Any dummy can write why a particular team "needs" a specific position; it takes a pretty good eye to understand what player needs to fill it. Again, just my 2 cents.
Here's my mock based on team need, prospect value and prevailing opinion as well as some ideas of my own. Please let me know about the team(s) that you follow more closely, and any picks that you agree or disagree with. Please comment, and feel free to rate.