In the latest installment of our ‘Scouting the 2020 NFL Draft‘ series, we focus on one of the most productive running backs in college football over the last two seasons, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.
The 2019 college football season will offer NFL draft fans with several high-end skill-position prospects on offense, including at running back where we could end up having multiple first-round picks for the first time since 2017.
One running back who has a chance to be a top-32 pick is Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor will enter 2019 with a decorated resume. He was the Doak Walker Award winner in 2018 (awarded to the nation’s top running back) after a consensus All-American season and Big-10 running back of the year honors.
He finished the 2018 season with 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging an astonishing 7.1 yards on 307 carries.
Taylor’s remarkable 2018 season followed an incredible freshman year in 2017 when he ran for 1,977 yards and 13 scores. He’s been a machine since stepping foot on campus.
Standing an estimated 5-11 and 219 pounds, Taylor has an ideal NFL running back’s frame. He has thick legs and his body weight is proportional. Assuming he doesn’t take too much of a pounding in 2019, he’s more than capable of holding up against the grind of a 16-game season.
Don’t be fooled by his size, either. Taylor can flat-out run. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash as a recruit out of high school and his tape is proof that he has the jets needed to run away from defensive backs in the open field. He’s a little tight in the hips in his approach to the line of scrimmage and he can fall victim to some happy feet when searching for his running lanes, but he’s a top-tier straight-line guy.
Taylor isn’t asked to be much of a receiver in Wisconsin’s offense (only 16 catches over two seasons), but that won’t hurt his evaluation too much. He doesn’t appear incapable as a pass-catcher.
The really exciting aspect of Taylor’s game is his ability to win as both an inside and outside runner. He’s strong enough to break through arm tackles and explosive enough to win on the second level. He just needs to develop more controlled patience behind the line of scrimmage to really take advantage of his natural traits.
Overall, Taylor has first-round upside. No doubt about it. A lot will come down to how NFL teams view his volume of carries and whether he can have an injury-free season in 2019. His production should remain similar to his last two seasons, and if he can play with a more natural feel as a runner, he’ll be in the mix to be one of the first two running backs drafted in 2020.