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Name: Taywan Taylor
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: Tennessee Titans
College Team: Western Kentucky
Draft Status: Round Three, Pick Eight (72 Overall)
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- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 203 pounds
- Hands: 9.25”
- Arm Length: 32.625”
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.5 seconds
- Vertical: 33.5”
- Broad: 132”
- 3-Cone Drill: 6.57 seconds
- 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds
Taywan Taylor is more than just a wide receiver with a cool name. Although it is pretty cool. Not everyone’s name is impervious to any-and-all spoonerism attacks. But I digress. Taywan is a wide receiver who brings a surprisingly balanced skill set to his game.
As easily gathered from his combine data, Taywan has sufficient long speed with a quick twitch to his game. In fact, his 6.57-second 3-cone drill was the best of all 58 wide receivers at the NFL Combine. That agility shows up in Taywan’s game frequently, in how easily he separates out of his route stems on in/out cutting routes and around defensive backs in press coverage too.
Even though Taylor doesn’t have the elite speed of a John Ross or Chris Johnson, he does perform well in the deep game. According to Pro Football Focus, Taywan actually led all receivers in this class in deep receiving yards and placed second in deep receptions (receptions of more than 20 yards). Simply put, Taywan is a creative wide receiver who wins independently with quickness, awareness and adequate athleticism making him a likely candidate for a friend of Marcus Mariota early on in Tennessee.
The Alabama game this past season accentuated the best and worst of Taywan Taylor. Yes, he grabbed nine balls for 121 yards (most of which came on one reception), but Taywan had his share of gaffes. Taywan initially won on a seven-yard out route in the first quarter, but let the sure first down bounce off of his hands. Later on in the game Taywan easily won again on a curl over the middle, but let the ball come to his body rather than attacking the ball and catching it with his hands. The defensive back easily closed on him and swatted the ball away because of Taywan’s lack of aggression. Those are just two examples, but they capture a couple of things that Taylor will have to work on if he wants to consistently succeed in the NFL.
If the Titans want to utilize Taywan in the slot this year he’ll need to win more often in contested situations, clean up the concentration drops, and be slightly more aggressive when attacking the ball on short and intermediate routes.
The Tennessee Titans showed us what “exotic smashmouth” football looked like last year. They were fourth in rush attempts in the NFL, but only 28th in pass attempts. That doesn’t exactly suggest Taywan Taylor is in for massive opportunities early on in Tennessee. However, what real production are we looking at for Taywan if he plugs into the slot wide receiver role like many expect him to do?
Last year the Titans had three or more wide receivers on the field just about 45% of the time. That’s 20% less than the league average. Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas manned the slot last year for the Titans and hauled in a combined stat line of 44 catches on 64 targets for 626 yards and three touchdowns. If Taywan can immediately come in and put up those numbers it wouldn’t be bad at all for a rookie. That still wouldn’t do much for your fantasy team though.
“But Travis, the Titans selected Taywan 72nd overall! He has to get more targets than scrubs like Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas, right?”
That would be nice to see, but there are several reasons Taywan may actually not even come close to those slot numbers from last year.
First off, the Titans selected Corey Davis fifth overall in the NFL Draft this year. He will immediately assume the WR1 role in this offense. Plus, Rishard Matthews was targeted 108 times last year. Marcus clearly gained some chemistry with him last year down the stretch. Rishard recorded 38 catches on 70 targets in just the final eight games of 2016. He isn’t going away. Tajae Sharpe is still probably going to demand some snaps as well. And finally, we can’t forget Delanie Walker. Delanie garnered 102 targets in 2016. That number really shouldn’t dip. If it does there really isn’t any indication that those targets will be going to a rookie slot receiver. If anything, fellow rookie Jonnu Smith may actually earn some work in the passing game instead.
The Titans simply have more depth and seemingly better receiving options this year all together. Even before the Titans added talent they only targeted slot wide receivers about 16% of the time. If that’s the case moving forward, then Taywan’s ceiling is scary low even if he eats up each and every slot target there is in Tennessee.
Thanks to the wide receiver class of 2014 it seems that everyone wants their rookies to blow up right away. That simply cannot and will not be the case with Taywan Taylor. If you do draft Taywan expect a slow start with no more than 45 catches and 600 yards in year one. He may be a sneaky value for a few games here and there when the opposing defense struggles with their nickel corner. Taylor may even find the end zone a few more times than expected given Mariota’s red zone efficiency. Just don’t expect Taywan to be any sort of league winner until Rishard and/or Delanie are gone in a few years.
Taywan can be more than a slot wide receiver in the NFL. He can beat press coverage on the outside against decent competition, but will likely never be a primary option for any NFL offense. If Rishard Matthews moves on after 2018 (he’ll be a free agent) Taywan’s snap share could greatly increase. Delanie Walker is also not a spring chicken. Should he slow down at all over the next few years the Titans may finally shift to more 11-personnel (with three WRs on the field). There are simply too many unknowns with Taywan’s situation to project much fantasy football relevance beyond a bye week plug and play flex option.
Rookie Draft Advice
Taywan is going a little bit earlier than the fourth target on a run-first offense should go in rookie drafts. Unless you play in a superflex league Taywan is generally taken in between picks 22 and 28. I wouldn’t advise taking Taywan until around pick 30. However, that’s exactly why after nine complete drafts this offseason, I (a Titans fan, I might add) have zero shares of him. There are simply way too many other solid flier options at RB and even WR to take him inside of the first two rounds.
Good luck to you in all of your rookie and start-up drafts. As always you can find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. I’m always up for discussing my writing or anything else. I hope you enjoyed the article. Go Preds!