Stepfan Taylor: This Year’s Doug Martin?

September 8, 2012; Palo Alto, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor (33) straight arms Duke Blue Devils safety August Campbell (32) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Some were surprised when the little bowling-ball runningback from Boise State named Doug Martin made his way into the first round of the NFL draft.

Martin’s short, thick build combined with surprising quickness and the toughness to carry the rushing load made him appealing to the run-heavy offense the Buccaneers are building. Martin showed during his time at Boise State that he could be a feature back even playing behind the prolific college passer that was Kellen Moore.

I can’t help but see the parallels to Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor in this year’s draft.

Taylor, like Martin, has been a quiet, productive workhorse behind a potent passing attack. It was pretty much impossible for Taylor to shine under the shadow of Andrew Luck despite putting up 25 touchdowns in 2010 and 2011. At this point in his career, Taylor has 3108 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns at over 5 yards per carry.

Taylor’s stout and thick build fits perfectly into the Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Doug Martin mold of running backs.

I doubt Taylor will be able to make the climb into the first round, but I think the second round is well within sight. Taylor hasn’t been asked to catch a lot of passes, but he is very solid in pass protection and could be a three-down back at the NFL level.

He does have a lot of wear on his tires. He currently is just 12 carries short of the 600 carry mark for his collegiate career. He has been able to stay healthy and play despite absorbing all the punishment he has over the years.

From a technical standpoint he is a very balanced runner with quick cuts and good flexibility in his lower half. He has a low center of gravity and good balance making him very difficult to knock over. He drives his legs consistently and is very patient when reading the backs of his blockers. He occasionally dances himself out of positive yardage, but it is rare. He usually attacks the line of scrimmage and is able to fall forward for positive yardage.

Taylor lacks the elite physical attributes that make running backs get drafted early in the first, but he could hear his name called on the second day. I can see a team with a dominant passing game picking him up to get the tough yards and run over defenses late in the game. He could be a great pick for a team like Detroit, Green Bay, San Diego, or Washington if he were to fall to the late second or early third round.

Topics: Running Backs, Stepfan Taylor

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