Up until the 2012 season, Taylor played in the shadow of elite quarterback Andrew Luck, who helped carry the Cardinal back to national prominence. The 5’11’’, 208-pound runner was the unsung hero, though, putting the ground game on his back and consistently delivering when called upon.
When it comes to carrying the ball, Taylor brings a balanced approach to the ground game. He runs with patience, allowing his blockers to set up before bursting through the hole. When running through traffic, he does a good job of protecting the football and keeping his legs churning. Of the two ends of the running back spectrum – speed and power – Taylor fits into neither. He isn’t overwhelmingly fast and doesn’t possess brute strength, but has a solid mix of the two that allows him to be a consistent workhorse. Quickness and determination are what make Taylor an intriguing NFL prospect.
A jack-of-all-trades, Taylor is capable of providing a boost in just about every one of the typical running back duties. On top of being a terrific ball-carrier, he has proven to be a reliable option in the passing game as both an option out of the backfield and as a blocker. Just the fact that he’s so versatile and efficient makes him a viable option for a team looking to add a third-down running back to the mix.
Taylor’s receiving skills are commendable, especially considering he spent the last four years playing in a West Coast offense. The Cardinal runner has soft hands and does a great job of using them to bring passes in. His routes could use some work, but his overall skills are well-polished at this point.
One thing that NFL teams won’t have to worry about with Taylor is durability. Stanford’s dependable back has yet to suffer any serious injuries during his college career and never missed a game for the Cardinal.
Taylor may not be the explosive, home run threat that NFL teams are looking for in their running backs these days, but he has the versatility to do whatever is asked of him and more. If he can continue to build on his existing skills, especially as a third-down back, he could easily warrant a third or fourth-round pick.