Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor’s preseason draft stock continues to rise

The 2020 NFL Draft is set up to shatter the narrative that running backs shouldn’t be selected in the first round, including one prospect who was recently named one of college football’s physical freaks.

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor will be one of the most exciting players to watch during the 2019 college football season. His resume of production is unrivaled at his position after rushing for 4,171 yards over the last two years.

His 2018 season was his best when he finished with 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns. His rushing totals weren’t just the result of a lot of carries, either. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the year.

But like any NFL draft prospect, it takes more than just on-field production to be valued as an elite talent. The run-up to next April’s draft will include the NFL combine and pro days where players like Taylor will have to run, jump and bench press their way into the first round.

According to the Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Taylor will have little trouble wowing scouts at those events.

Feldman named Taylor to his annual Freaks list, which highlights college football’s freakiest athletes every preseason. Taylor ranked No. 5 (out of 50).

It doesn’t take much film study to get a feel for how good of an athlete Taylor is. Even at an estimated 221 pounds, he has the kind of open-field speed needed to run away from defensive backs, and his reported 40-yard dash time is just further confirmation of this trait.

Taylor ran a 4.3 in the spring, according to Feldman, and recording a vertical jump of 37.5 inches. And while these numbers are far from official, they’re still indicative of his explosive athleticism.

Taylor will jockey with Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Georgia’s D’Andre Swift in the running back rankings this season and can pull away from both prospects if he strings together another great season followed by eye-popping testing numbers.