I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on the Detroit Lions late round picks from the 2013 NFL Draft. However, I don’t see Devin Taylor as a fourth round pick. The South Carolina defensive end saw his statistics drop each of the last two seasons after displaying a great sophomore season.
The Lions took Taylor with the 132nd overall pick of the draft. Taylor was the 16th defensive end taken and the second to secure a spot with the Lions via the 2013 NFL Draft. After taking Ziggy Ansah in the first round, it was unclear if the Lions would take another defensive end, a position they were short at.
Taylor has been overshadowed at South Carolina by Melvin Ingram and Jadaveon Clowney. Ingram was the 18th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and Clowney would have been a first round pick in 2013 if not for the NCAA stay in college rules.
Taylor was a beast his sophomore season at South Carolina. He started all 14 games and recorded 46 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. His accomplishments helped him get named to the First Team All-SEC. The problem is Taylor’s stats declined after that. In 2011, Taylor had 42 tackles and six sacks. His final season in 2012 saw 40 tackles and three sacks.
The good news is Taylor was good enough to start the last three seasons at a SEC school. Taylor started the last 40 games over the course of three seasons. That is more that can be said for Ansah, who wasn’t even a full time starter at BYU.
Taylor boosted his draft stock with a strong performance in the East-West Shrine Game, where he had several sacks and a forced fumble. Taylor, a former All-State triple jump title holder, also showed his athleticism at the 2013 Scouting Combine. Taylor ran an impressive 4.72 40 yard dash but was one of the best performers in the vertical jump and broad jump. The Lions have shown a couple of times in the draft that they value combine performance ahead of other stats.
The Lions entered the 2013 off-season with huge holes at the defensive end position. The team lost Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson, leaving immediate openings and depth roles on the team for 2013. Detroit drafted Ansah and signed Jason Jones in free agency. The tam also returns Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis. I profiled the upside potential of Young in a recent article. Taylor should get plenty of opportunity to play and could finally show what he is capable of on defense.
With other needs, I think the Lions reached a little bit here for a guy that was projected by some to be around in the sixth or seventh round.