Lorenzo Taliaferro has had an impressive year at Coastal Carolina after starting his career at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania. After playing in parts of 12 games as a junior, Taliaferro became the featured running back in the Chanticleers offense and was dominant in the Big South Conference, winning the Big South Offensive Player of the Year 5 times. Overall, he had 9 100 yard games on the ground and caught 23 passes enabling him to score a total of 29 touchdowns on the season.
Taliferro is a talented back that can help as a blocker and receiver in addition to a runner. He will have to keep working to shed the label of dominating lower level college players, though he may have helped his case when he attended the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Taliaferro warrants a third day pick and could be a huge asset to a group of backs with the potential to be a lead back.
Vitals & Build
Taliaferro measured 6’ 229lbs at the scouting combine with 33” arms and 8 3/8” hands. He has a big, strong build for the position and certainly looks the part. His speed is solid but, he shows pretty good quickness and body control. His functional strength and feet stand out as well as his balance and fluidity. Taliaferro looks NFL ready as an athlete now, but he could still continue to get stronger and fill out his frame more if he can maintain his athleticism.
Taliferro tends to run a little tall when he is not expecting contact and with his height, it makes it more difficult. He is not a power back; rather a more balanced runner, but he still does his best work between the tackles.
Taliferro likes to stretch carries out wide but his long speed is not great and he can be indecisive in how he wants to attack defenders and slow down or stop his progress. He is better when he attacks the middle of the field and it naturally has him end up outside as he goes up the field. Taliaferro’s vision is solid but has not really stood out, save a few examples.
When he gets the ball, Taliaferro can win in a few different ways. He can use quickness, usually in the form of quick or jump cuts or he can get behind his pads and go with power. The times Taliaferro anticipates contact, he can put his shoulder down and drive through opponents or overpower them and keep running. His balance and the angle he can run make it so he can absorb contact well and allow him to continue running down the field. There are numerous examples where he is a load to bring down is able to keep fighting and gaining yardage as opponents are unable to tackle him.
Taliaferro is also able to put his foot in the ground and make quick moves in small areas. He is surprisingly nimble and can get skinny in crowded areas, able to find his way through and work through the pile.
In terms of body control, Taliaferro is really good when it comes to regaining or maintaining his balance and his direction, making it so he can adjust on the fly and continue gaining yards. He is also impressive with how he is able to corner, maneuver his body and maintain his speed.
Taliaferro has been able to do a nice job when it comes to short yardage and the goal line. While he can occasionally make some long runs, he is more likely the type of runner who is going to be somewhat of a plodder, who can get consistent yardage but is not a huge threat to gain large swaths of yardage.
Route Running & Technique
Taliaferro is a pretty accomplished route runner. From release routes to attacking the flats, Taliaferro does a good job of planting his foot in the ground, pushing off and gaining separation from the opponent. On hitch type routes, he is good when it comes to attacking at the opponent, sticking his foot in the ground and flipping back to the quarterback.
Taliaferro shows a good amount of polish as a route runner and should be able to transition to the NFL in that area well. Though he is a bigger back that does his damage between the tackles as a runner, the Chanticleers would throw passes to him to get him space and allow him to make plays against smaller defenders.
Taliaferro is a solid hands catcher who is not afraid to snag the ball cleanly out of the air. Most of the catches he has tend to come from turning his body back to the ball, but he does catch well on the move and shows a solid catch radius. Taliaferro is above average in that area and while he has not shown to be spectacular, he should be fine in catching passes out of the backfield despite small hands. When he is expecting to get hit, he will use his body to help insure the catch.
Taliferro has shown the ability to be a good blocker. He does an excellent job of chipping on his way out and into release routes. He is able to be an effective pass blocker but will occasionally get in trouble with lunging, at least on the game tape. In drills at the Senior Bowl, Taliferro was outstanding and as good as anyone there in terms of his ability to slide and protect with good strength and power.
If he can carry that over to the NFL, he should be able to step in immediately and pass protect. He gains ground, slides and mirrors well and has a good base and power to jolt the opponent.
Taliferro has experience as a lead blocker, but he tends to try to cut opponents and is not patient when it comes to launching. He tends to go too early and just end up on the ground in front of the opponent rather than actually blocking them.
Taliaferro has a ton of experience working from a split back in the shotgun, so he should be able to play in a single back system without issue. He could get accustomed to running behind a fullback, but he is best utilized between the tackles. His vision appears good enough that he could play in a zone type scheme or power scheme.
It is also possible that Taliaferro could be a situational lead blocker and fullback for a team because of his size, strength and experience with blocking. He needs to get better as a lead blocker but his ability to catch passes out of the backfield would not hurt him either.
Taliaferro is somewhat similar to Khiry Robinson of the New Orleans Saints. Robinson played at an even smaller school in West Texas A&M than Taliaferro did and he went undrafted, which does not seem likely with Taliaferro. Nevertheless, both have a good amount of size while being a pretty good all-around athlete who could help in a number of different facets of the game.
Lorenzo Taliaferro has a good overall skillset and physical build. The only thing that is really hurting Taliaferro is the competition he played against and the fact he only had one big season at Coastal Carolina. Nevertheless, he has shown he can run, catch and block for a team and should be able to contribute in the NFL. As a result, Taliaferro warrants a third day pick and could be a player that significantly outperforms his draft status.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com