In a no brainer decision today, the Cleveland Browns exercised their fifth-year team option on defensive tackle Phil Taylor. Now the Browns have Taylor under contract through next season. Taylor was the Browns’ first-round pick in 2011, and he was picked in the Atlanta Falcons‘ spot as part of the Julio Jones trade. Taylor has not been able to find the field much in his NFL career mostly due to injuries.
Taylor, like much of the Browns’ front seven, has quite a lot to prove to both the fans and the new coaching staff. The entire front seven, including Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, Jabaal Sheard and new signing Karlos Dansby must show that they are able to compete at an NFL level. We should give Taylor, specifically, some credit here — he has gone through three different scheme changes in just four seasons. Having to endure with coaching scheme changes from Pat Shurmur to Rob Chudzinski was obviously a massive shift, especially when you consider the fact that Chud’s defensive coordinator was Ray Horton who is well known for throwing an outrageous number of blitz packages out there.
Taylor’s natural position is that of a three-point stance nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. Essentially, Taylor’s job is almost exclusively to try and clog the middle with his massive frame. But it is in all likelihood his massive frame which has caused the multitude of injuries that he has seen over the past few seasons. Taylor currently stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at a colossal 335-pounds. That’s a body simply built for destruction, but it is not one designed to see 50-60 snaps a game, which is what Taylor’s work load may eventually be called upon to be.
When the Browns drafted Taylor, many expected him to become similar to Warren Sapp. Sapp is a touch smaller than Taylor at 6-foot-2 and 300-pounds, but he had absolutely explosive speed off the line. If Taylor, who absolutely has the talent to be a Hall of Famer like Sapp, wants to have a similar career, he must step up his play this season.