2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jonathan Taylor

  • Jonathan Taylor, 5-11/216

  • Running Back

  • Wisconsin

  • Jonathan Taylor Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Power runner
  • Strength to run through tackles
  • Tremendous stiff arm
  • Contact balance
  • Gets yards after contact
  • Strong lower body
  • Short-yardage asset
  • Keeps feet going after contact
  • Can move the pile
  • Good speed
  • Acceleration
  • Quick first-step to hit the hole
  • Second gear in the open field
  • Can rip off long gains on any carry
  • Instinctive runner
  • Excellent vision
  • Superb patience
  • Can create for himself
  • Anticipation
  • Cutting ability
  • Quick feet
  • Receiving ability
  • Quality route-runner
  • Good enough hands
  • Excellent body lean to run low
  • Runs behind pads
  • Bends at the knee
  • Decisive runner
  • Three-down-starter ability

  • Weaknesses:
  • Will need development in blitz protection

  • Summary: Going to back to Barry Alvarez’s time at Wisconsin, the Badgers have consistently fielded a tremendous rushing attack and are known for their talented tailbacks and tough offensive linemen. Taylor will keep the tradition going in the 2020 NFL Draft after dominating college football over the past three seasons.

    Taylor was superb out the gate averaging in 2017, 6.6 yards per carry for 1,977 yards with 13 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Taylor averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 2,194 yards with 16 touchdowns. He had eight receptions for 60 yards as well. Taylor exceeded 2,000 yards again in 2019, collecting 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The junior also showed more receiving ability with 26 receptions for 252 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

    There is no doubt Taylor has the ability to make an impact as a running back in the NFL given his skill set to be a three-down starter. He possesses an excellent combination of size and speed that lets him run over tacklers or by them. Taylor has a strong build and is very difficult to get down, as he will power through tackles and bounce off defenders to continue to gain yards. He has superb contact balance and runs behind his pads with good knee bend. In short-yardage situations, Taylor is an asset who can create on his own with his power to push the pile. He keeps his legs going after contact with a powerful lower body that is tough to stop. An added element to his power is a wicked stiff-arm that makes it tough for defenders to grab him.

    Taylor can rip off yards in chunks in the open field, making him a threat to turn ordinary carries into big gains with his speed to get downfield. Taylor has a quick first-step and a second gear that allows him to run away from defenders. Taylor isn’t Chris Johnson fast, but he has good speed for the position. With his cutting ability and quick feet, Taylor has some elusiveness in the open field as well.

    Aside from his size and speed, Taylor is a natural runner with very good instincts. He displays excellent vision, patience and anticipation to follow his offensive line before bursting downhill. When holes aren’t open, Taylor is patient to let his line create a crease and uses his vision very well to make something out of nothing. Taylor anticipates where a hole is about to open, and that lets him get to the second level consistently.

    In the passing game, Taylor has pretty good hands for a power back. He can makes some difficult catches and is dangerous in space. In time, he should be an asset in pass protection, but like all college backs, he will need coaching and development for pass blocking in the NFL.

    In speaking to nine team sources, six of them said Taylor was a first-round talent while three said they had a second-round grade on Taylor. A couple of teams said they had Taylor as the top back for the 2020 NFL Draft. One said they thought Taylor could go in first half of Round 1, and another said he could be a top-20 pick. Most thought Taylor would go in the first round, but he could slide because teams decide to address another position without as much depth as they feel they can still land a good running back on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

    “[Taylor’s] a first-round talent,” said an NFC director of college scouting, “If the runners slide like the offensive tackles and wide receivers slightly did last year, then he’ll go top of [Round 2].”

    Regardless of where he’s drafted, Taylor should be a three-down starter quickly and could be one of the top running backs in the NFL and potentially make some Pro Bowls.

    Player Comparison: Marshawn Lynch. Lynch (5-11, 215) and Taylor are nearly identical in size with both having power to run through tacklers and surprising speed for backs with their strong build. In the NFL, I could see Taylor being a back comparable to Lynch.


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