J.J. Taylor was the smallest player in the 2020 NFL Draft Class, but one look at him on tape, and it’s easy to see why a team would be willing to give him a look.
Taylor wasn’t drafted out of Arizona, but the New England Patriots brought him in as an undrafted free agent who could help the team in a variety of ways.
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Take a look at Taylor’s game-breaking ability in his highlight reel below:
Power Running, Despite His Size
When you say a RB weighs 185 pounds, it doesn’t immediately scream power runner. However, when those 185 pounds are stacked into a muscular 5’5″ frame, their power can be deceiving.
Taylor isn’t Larry Csonka by any stretch, but one look at this truck stick finish from Taylor against a fellow Patriots undrafted free-agent Myles Bryant tells you a little bit about what you can expect from the fire-hydrant built rookie running back.
In fact, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s criticism of Taylor was based on his tendency to run like a bigger back rather than a Tarik-Cohen-like weapon out of the backfield. Zierlein wrote:
Short but stout runner whose running style is more power back than water bug. Taylor has been a productive college back who runs decisively both inside and outside, but does not have the burst or wiggle teams are looking for from smaller runners. His size is a hindrance but he might have an outside shot if he can rebrand as a matchup pass catcher out of the backfield.
Does Taylor Have Elite Speed?
At the NFL Combine, Taylor only ran a 4.6 40-yard-dash, and that number might have cost him a draft slot. Smaller backs are expected to run sub-4.5 numbers. In comparison, Darren Sproles clocked in with a 4.49 40-time in 2005. Cohen ran 4.42 in 2017.
Taylor ran slower at the combine than guys with a similar frame who have had success on the NFL level, but the burst you see in the video above suggests he has the requisite in-game speed. He is rarely caught from behind once he gets into the open field. He also doesn’t appear to have much of a problem bouncing runs to the outside.
Some Experts Love the Taylor Signing
Pro Football Focus called the Patriots’ signing of Taylor one of the best undrafted free agent finds of the offseason.
The ‘fun to watch’ label gets thrown out a lot during draft season, but, man, Taylor is fun to watch. Coming in at 5-foot-5 and 185 pounds, Taylor has a legitimate hit stick. He has no fear running straight through defenders much larger than him. He also has some light feet and natural receiving ability that could make him a nice threat out of the backfield in New England. Compared to some of the running backs that came off the board as early as the second round (looking at you, A.J. Dillon) getting Taylor as an undrafted free agent is great value. The fit couldn’t be much better in New England, either, as he can learn from someone like James White.
Call me crazy, but I can easily see Taylor having a solid NFL career and being a fan favorite because of his ability to spring big plays from scrimmage and in the return game.
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