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J.J. Taylor Has a Great Chance to Make the Team: Report
At 5’5″ Taylor is considered undersized at any position on the football–even running back. However, the powerfully built Taylor was a standout performer at Arizona in college. While he didn’t get drafted, the Patriots seemed pretty high on Taylor and signed him quickly after the draft.
According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, the rash of players choosing to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season has created new opportunities for some of the undrafted free agents.
The Patriots have already re-signed former Auburn WR Will Hastings and former Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke. Those two may not stick as the Patriots have a number of bodies at their positions, but Kyed says Taylor is in a good position:
Taylor is an injury away from essentially ensuring a roster spot. And he could earn a fifth spot on the running back depth chart if the Patriots like him enough. The Patriots kept five running backs in 2020.
Which Opt-Out Player’s Absence Helps Taylor’s Chances the Most?
Easily, Brandon Bolden might have done Taylor a huge favor by opting-out of the season. Bolden has always been one of the Patriots’ most versatile players. He’s a special teams performer on the kicking team and as a return man. He’s also a reserve running back capable of spelling the players ahead of him in a pinch.
Bolden’s absence isn’t the only promising aspect of the Patriots’ situation for Taylor. The team is without a star at the position. Starting running back Sony Michel is trying to recover from offseason surgery, James White will be 29 in February, Rex Burkhead is 30, and second-year-pro Damien Harris struggled to establish himself as a rookie.
Taylor has more upside as a receiver out of the backfield, but like Bolden, he’ll likely need to prove his worth on special teams first. Taylor could be the kind of player who just needs an opportunity. The Patriots have a history of developing undrafted players into major standouts. Perhaps Taylor will be the latest example.
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