J.J. Taylor Is A Fantasy Football Sleeper In The 2020 NFL Draft
J.J. Taylor, Arizona
Weight: 185 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds
Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches
Broad Jump: 118 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.0 seconds
(Games Scouted: Hawaii (2019) | Washington (2019) | Houston (2019))
Yes, you read that correctly. We’re doing a rookie profile on a RB that is 5’5/185, which is certainly not the prototypical size for the position in the NFL.
J.J. Taylor is not going to be the type of player that receives more than 100 carries on the ground in a season, but he’s slippery and shifty and can be used frequently as a receiving option out of the backfield. When you put on the tape, you’ll notice a very elusive player who is much quicker than his testing numbers would indicate.
Does he have the size to succeed in the NFL? Will he be drafted high enough in the NFL Draft to be useful for fantasy football?
Those questions are answered here in my detailed scouting report on J.J. Taylor (ratings out of five stars):
Arizona frequently had Taylor running in between the tackles, which is surprising given his size, but he succeeded nearly every chance he got. He showed great vision and an ability to quickly cut back against the grain to explode through an opening, which is a huge advantage he has on a lot of these heavier RBs. This won’t be the way he’s used in the NFL primarily, but he showed a proficiency in it at Arizona.
Inform me when you're all ready to discourse on J.J. Taylor pic.twitter.com/5G4zdTpRRz
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) November 3, 2018
Elusiveness (twitch, juke, tackle-breaking)
Taylor is a nightmare in the open field for defenders with his elusiveness and ability to change directions seamlessly. Due to his compact frame, he can put his foot in the ground and shift momentum faster than larger defenders can even process what happened.
JJ Taylor 🎮
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) September 14, 2017
As mentioned previously, Taylor does not have the size that’s going to allow him to be a workhorse back at the NFL level. With that being said, Taylor runs like he’s 6’2/250 pounds. He is fearless and is as tough as nails. He’s a fighter and that shows on the football field. His 40-yard dash testing time was not great, but his play speed is much quicker than that. He doesn’t possess elite top-end speed, but he has great acceleration and burst in short windows.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor: PFF's top sleeper RBpic.twitter.com/LF5dQ89CnU
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 28, 2020
This is where Taylor shines and where he’ll be able to carve out a role for himself in the NFL. I came away very impressed with him in pass protection for his size and he’s an excellent pass catcher and route-runner out of the backfield. Taylor will be able to step onto the field and immediately contribute in this fashion.
This option route by JJ Taylor 😍 one of the best all around receiving RBs in the class
I mentioned it on the @DynastyRewind but i really like his talent. However my concern is the testing at the combine and no chance to redeem himself at his pro day could hurt the draft stock. pic.twitter.com/tbot4KzSNI
— Garret Price (@DynastyPrice) April 1, 2020
Taylor is certainly limited based on his size and he won’t ever be used the way that Nick Chubb or Derrick Henry are used in the NFL. However, he can provide a spark for an offense on 3rd downs and he can contribute on special teams immediately. Taylor’s a great kick and punt returner, which will help boost his draft stock slightly.
To the house!
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 16, 2018
Projected Draft Spot
Right now, Taylor’s a tough evaluation due to his poor athletic testing at the NFL Combine for his size. The limited role availability prevents him from being a high draft pick to begin with, but the athletic testing is going to have NFL teams very hesitant to bring him if if they don’t think his athleticism will be able to make the jump from the Pac-12 to the NFL. My projection is that he goes in the 5th round or later, potentially undrafted, and will have to carve out a role for himself over time. He can be a valuable fantasy football asset though with his receiving ability and elusiveness in the open field. If Taylor landed in a spot like Tennessee to be the pass-catching compliment to Derrick Henry, he’d have fantasy football value right out of the gates. The landing spot will dictate Taylor’s true value from a fantasy perspective, but he has the talent to be a late Dynasty rookie draft pick that contributes sooner rather than later.
When looking at Taylor from a physical profile standpoint, it’s hard to not draw the typical comparison to Darren Sproles or Tarik Cohen. Cohen has a little bit more top-end speed, but Sproles is the comparison that I see when watching him on tape. They run very similarly and Taylor could be deployed in a role just like Sproles had been over the course of his career. If Taylor lands in the right spot, we know what that role meant to fantasy football…
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