Jonathan Taylor is bringing home (team) improvement wherever he lands.
Jonathan Taylor is one of the best-known prospects leading up to this year’s draft. He’s also among the more polarizing players for a number of reasons. His numbers are gaudy and his film shows rare and elite running traits. However, there are concerns about his workload, and prowess in the receiving game, which may limit him as a pro. Read on to learn more and decide for yourself.
Jonathan Taylor finished his career as the 6th all-time rusher in NCAA history with 6174 rushing yards. He was the first player to reach 6000 yards rushing in only 3 seasons, meaning the 5 players above him each played a full season more than him. He is as prolific as they come as a ball carrier. Despite having a high volume of carries, he was still a very efficient runner. He averaged 6.7 ypc over his career.
One of the bigger concerns with Taylor is that he has over 900 career rushes under his belt. That’s extremely high volume for a running back entering the NFL. The list of running backs with 900+ carries in college that went on to NFL stardom is very short, at least in the past decade or two.
The other perceived flaw in his game is his lack of involvement in the passing game with only 42 career receptions. How do these factors affect his profile as a rookie prospect? Let’s take a look at the film.
Jonathan Taylor’s most evident trait is his power. Less obvious is how nicely his body control complements his power. He rarely gets stood up or stopped at the line because of his ability to overpower defenders but his ability to contort his body in order to avoid big hits and roll off of defenders is just as important. The combination of these two traits allows him to keep his legs churning and fall forward, adding valuable yards to the end of most plays.
His vision and decision making pair nicely with his combination of patience and aggressiveness. He does an excellent job of seeing if, and when, his blocks are setting up and how the defense is reacting. This allows him to make good decisions to stick to the script or create on his own. You rarely see him get stopped behind the line of scrimmage because he takes what is blocked unless there’s an opportunity to create more.
His agility and contact balance are what truly put him head and shoulders above his peers between the tackles. He is unmatched in traffic, making cuts in tight spaces and bouncing off would-be tacklers to come out of the trenches and into the second level. He has the speed to run outside but his inside running is his greatest strength.
Jonathan Taylor’s greatest weakness is his lack of prowess in the receiving game. Coming into this season he had a total of 16 career receptions. With the prevalence of point per reception leagues, that was a big concern in fantasy circles. Catching 26 balls this season has quieted some of those concerns but his involvement in the receiving game remains somewhat of a question mark.
Despite the increased involvement in the passing game, Taylor still looks uncomfortable. His routes are not crisp or decisive. He looks unsure of how to run some of his routes against different coverages. His hands are adequate but he lets the ball into his body too frequently. You would like to see him reaching out from his body to catch the ball with his hands. He does enough to stay on the field for three downs but he doesn’t project to be heavily involved in the passing game at the NFL level, like the majority of elite fantasy running backs.
Jonathan Taylor will be an excellent running back in the NFL and a valuable asset in fantasy football. His running ability ensures that he will get the bulk of the carries in whatever offense he lands, making him a safe pick. His lack of receiving ability hinders his upside making some of his peer’s more exciting options.
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