Florida’s Jawaan Taylor is certainly his own player and has his own story, but his journey to the NFL Draft is not anything we haven’t seen before.
The Sunshine State native was offered a scholarship to play for the Gators only after he dropped a considerable amount of weight. In high school, Taylor was a three-star recruit but also boasted a weight of as much as 384 pounds.
Upon arriving in Gainesville, Taylor played at just under 350 pounds for three years and developed into a powerful force at right tackle. In his third and final season under head coach Dan Mullen, Taylor rose up the ranks of offensive tackle prospects as Florida re-emerged as a contender in the college football landscape.
Now, Taylor figures to be an option for the Bengals with their 11th overall selection in the draft. Would he be a good pick for Cincinnati?
Why the pick makes sense:
- Like it is with all the other tackles in the draft, Taylor would provide the Bengals with a legitimate backup to Bobby Hart as well as future competition if Hart continues to underwhelm as a starter.
- Eight days younger than Jonah Williams, Taylor is the youngest top tackle prospect in this class. He won’t turn 22 until November 25th of this year.
- Taylor has 34 starts to his name thanks to playing as a true freshman. Paired with his youth, Taylor has the experience the NFL looks for in top picks.
- Despite playing on the heavier side, Taylor displayed competent footwork in pass protection and pairs it with solid hand usage as well.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Taylor allowed six sacks in 2016, three in 2017 and just one in 2018, showing considerable improvement against SEC competition.
- Run blocking is Taylor’s bread and butter. He was PFF’s fourth-best run blocker in 2018 and the tape backs it up. Taylor moves people who don’t want to be moved.
- The Bengals need more talent on their offensive line. Period. Taylor could easily be the best one available come draft night.
Why the pick doesn’t make sense:
- The Bengals may be better suited in taking an immediate contributor on defense rather than a guaranteed backup on offense.
- Though he can conceivably get better, Taylor is still a ways to go in terms of refinement. He has a propensity to false start and is occasionally erratic in pass protection.
- A lack of athletic testing objectively makes Taylor a risk.
- Scheme versatility may be an issue. Taylor athletically fits much better in a gap blocking scheme and the Bengals will likely deploy a lot of zone under Zac Taylor.
- Positional versatility is another concern for Taylor. He only made a handful of starts at left tackle and is viewed as a right tackle only.
- In preparation for the draft, Taylor dropped his weight all the way down to 312 pounds. Maintaining that weight for when the pads come on is a fair concern for him.
The last time the Bengals took a tackle this high was when they drafted Andre Smith sixth overall in 2009. 10 years later, Smith and the Bengals have officially moved on from one another and think they have a stable solution at right tackle, but Taylor gives them a chance at another Smith-like tackle. Taylor’s size and on-tape athleticism makes him a similar prospect to what Smith was all those years ago, and at his peak, Smith was an above average right tackle.
With time, Taylor can reach that same peak in Cincinnati.