#2 Overall Running Back by Football Addicts
Born: January 19th, 1999 (20 years old)
Weight: 221 Lbs
Position: Running Back
Jonathan Taylor was a 3 star running back in 2017, and the 24th ranked running back for his class according to 247Sports. The former Rutgers commit was born in Salem, New Jersey where he would set the New Jersey state record for rushing yards in a season with 2,815. Ironically he would dethrone New Jersey native, and soon to be Badger Brother, Corey Clement.
In November of 2016 Jonathan Taylor would flip his commitment from Rutgers University to University of Wisconsin, in a move that would shape his college football career. He is currently well on his way to 6,000 career rushing yards and last year Taylor won the Doak Walker Award for the Nation’s top running back.
In his freshman season Taylor was viewed as the 4th or 5th running back on the depth chart, but due to early injuries, showcased his abilities to the coaching staff off the bat. He became a Co-Starter for the Badgers, and would match the FBS record the fastest freshman to reach 1,000 yards rushing (7 games). He was named a unanimous 1st-team All American, the Pinstripe Bowl MVP and the Doak Walker Award winner all in 2018.
10 games into the 2019 season Taylor has racked up 1,463 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns, and already has more receptions this season than he had in his previous two combined (20). He has lead the Wisconsin Badgers to a 6-2 record and was a very popular name in Heisman talks up until their loss to Illinois two weeks ago.
Strengths and Weaknesses
At 220 Lbs, Jonathan Taylor can more than handle himself between the tackles, and is shifty enough to work outside the tackles. Taylor has great ball carrier vision, and combines it with a patient running style that allows the blocks to set up down field for him. He runs a lot quicker than most 220 Lb backs do, and has shown the speed to break away from Big-Ten defensive backs.
Most of Taylor’s cons are more from the Wisconsin offensive scheme than his actual play. As of Week 12 of the 2019-20 season Jonathan Taylor has 839 career carries and only has 36 catches. While this season he has shown a lot more ability in the passing game, it is still a part of his game that is somewhat unknown. On the other hand, he is going to be well on his way to over 900 career rushes, and that could scare away some NFL teams.
NFL Draft Projection/NFL Player Comp
NFL Draft Projection
While Jonathan Taylor might be a special talent, and the best running back in the draft class, he is no Saquon Barkley or Ezekeill Elliott. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he even slipped into the 2nd Round come April. I still think Taylor could be as productive as some of the top NFL back have been, but most of the teams in the top portion of the draft just aren’t searching for running back. I currently have Taylor being selected 39th overall by the Miami Dolphins.
I think teams at the back end of the 1st round like the Chiefs, Saints and Seahawks could all be good landing spots for Taylor’s future in the NFL. A sneaky team is the Atlanta Falcons, as they will be picking at the turnaround of the 2nd round, and were looking to move on from Devonta Freeman at the trade deadline.
NFL Player Comp
Taylor’s ability to wait and find a running lane in that All-World Wisconsin offensive line is reminiscent of how Le’Veon Bell would work his way through the Pittsburgh Steelers line back in the good ol’ days. Bell might be a tad bigger, but by no means is Jonathan Taylor a small back, and still has 4.42 40 speed.
This year Wisconsin opened up the playbook a little more for Taylor, and has shown us he can be a threat in the receiving game as well, catching four touchdown passes already. Similarly to Bell at Michigan State, while he has caught passes in college, it is far from a strong focal point in his game but is something I think NFL offenses could un-tap for him.