The collegiate record-holder for most yards through his first three seasons, Jonathan Taylor amassed major rushing totals each year on his way to over 6,100 rushing yards in his career. While Taylor’s stats certainly pass the eye test, further review of his game film identified some opportunity areas that may be important to consider before you draft him early in your 2020 rookie drafts.
Athletic Ability – 7.2 / 10
While Taylor didn’t ‘wow’ the Rotoheat team with his athleticism, he did enough to warrant a more than respectable 7.2 rating in this area. He lacks the top-end speed and elusiveness of some of the other prospects in this rookie class, but did show the ability to turn upfield quickly and blast through small creases, and demonstrated great contact balance to stay upright when hit. On occasion, Taylor could use his side-step move to avoid ankle tackles, but did not show many examples of using agility to make defenders miss in the open field.
Toughness – 7.9 / 10
The highest-rated area in JT’s game was easily toughness, and it was obvious when watching him play. In addition to the great contact balance mentioned earlier, Taylor broke through arm tackles with ease and always kept his legs churning which allowed him to turn the smallest of gains into solid 4-5 yard pickups with regularity. By squaring his shoulders and lowering his upper body upon impact, he is able to more easily run through the smaller tacklers he encounters at the second and third levels of the defense.
Vision – 7.6
While this shouldn’t necessarily be a knock against the talented back, Wisconsin boasted an offensive line that was both large and skilled. They had the Rimington Trophy winner at center, as well as PFF’s best run-blocker from 2018 at tackle. While also running behind a fullback and/or a tight end at times, this opened many wide open running lanes for Taylor. As such, it is somewhat difficult to definitively say whether his vision is great or not. Most of the Rotoheat rookie evaluators noted that JT had fine vision to be able to find those open lanes and hit them hard, and also showed he could squeeze through smaller creases when there appeared to be little running room.
Hands – 6.9 / 10
The Badgers finally began giving Jonathan Taylor some opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield in 2019, as he totaled just 16 receptions in the two years prior before reeling in 26 this past season. The increased usage in the passing game was nice to see in his Junior season, and he was able to turn nearly 20% of those catches in 2019 into touchdowns. However, the small sample size of consistent passing game usage throughout his career was a little concerning.
YAC – 7.4 / 10
We have already mentioned how Taylor’s toughness and contact balance allowed him to take contact and still continue moving forward for more yardage. However, perhaps due to the strength of the offensive line, often Taylor was fighting for more yards after contact against smaller defenders in the second and third level. While it did not happen regularly, when JT was met by the defensive lineman, he went down quickly more often than not. This would be something that could limit him at the next level if the offensive line is not able to create much space for him.