Why Undrafted?: Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami

Leonard Taylor

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the leadup to the 2024 NFL Draft, there were frequent projections of Miami defensive tackle Leonard Taylor being an early-round pick. Taylor flashed an NFL skill set with the Hurricanes going back to his freshman season in 2021. Entering the 2023 season, there was hype of Taylor producing a massive year and potential going Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. The hype slowed in the spring of 2024, but many thought Taylor would still get drafted. Thus, it was a surprise to some when Taylor slid into the undrafted ranks.

Team sources said Taylor slid because teams gave him terrible marks on football character. Sources said Miami Hurricanes staff felt that Taylor did not love football and was not a worker. Evaluators regarded Taylor as a massive underachiever who never played up to his talent level. Hence, no NFL team deemed him worthy of using a pick.

After going undrafted, Taylor signed with the New York Jets, which was a fine landing spot. The Jets have one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL with Quinnen Williams, and they signed veteran Javon Kinlaw to start alongside Williams. However behind them, there is a wide-open competition. Solomon Thomas is the favorite to be one rotational backup. Aside from him, Taylor will be competing with the likes of Leki Fotu, Bruce Hector, Tanzel Smart, Manny Jones and Marquis Spencer. Taylor definitely will have a shot to win a roster spot over players in that group, but it would not be surprising if he falls short given his play at Miami.

The best thing for Taylor might be to start out on the Jets’ or another team’s practice squad. There, he could show that he really wants an NFL career and is dedicated to working hard. Taylor has a chance at a pro career, but it will be up to him to fight for it and make it happen because nothing will be given to him at the highest level of the game.


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