The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Jawaan Taylor 35th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, trading up three spots early in the second round to get him. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Taylor ahead of the draft:
Von Miller. J.J. Watt. Khalil Mack. DeMarcus Lawrence. Cameron Jordan. Ryan Kerrigan. Carlos Dunlap. Danielle Hunter. T.J. Watt. Cameron Wake.
There used to be a time, not too long ago in fact, when left tackles were seen as having a much higher value than right tackles for most teams. Part of the argument in favor of this was because they were protecting the quarterback’s “blindside” (provided the quarterback was right-handed, as the overwhelming majority of NFL quarterbacks have been). Another part of the argument, however, was that left tackles usually had to go against their opponent’s best edge rusher. And a lot of defenses back then did put their best edge rusher on the right side for a variety of reasons.
Well, do you see those names listed up above? One thing they have in common is they all do a great job of pass rushing from the edge. The other thing they have in common is they all primarily rush from the defensive left edge. These days, if your right tackle isn’t top-notch too, your quarterback is likely going to be running for his life damn near every week.
Enter former Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor.
Taylor actually would be an upgrade for most teams at right tackle from what I saw in these four games of his I watched. He doesn’t block people as much as he mauls them, and that’s the kind of mean streak I want in my offensive linemen.
I loved the edge he played with and the way he tried to dominate his opposition on every play. He came off the ball hard, exploded out of his hips, and fired into people all game long. Watching him come off and drive defenders off the line of scrimmage was like watching an avalanche fall on somebody and seeing it wash them away as if they were never there.
While preparing to write this column I saw Taylor benched pressed 225 pounds 24 times at the combine, which isn’t bad, but also isn’t exactly eye-popping, either. I just want to tell you, flat out, that I don’t really give a damn about that bench press number. What I saw on film made it obvious to me that this is a very powerful young man.
He served up plenty enough pancakes to make me a believer.
Taylor can handle any defender who tries to take him on.
I don’t have any questions about whether Taylor is strong enough to be dominant in the NFL. If you watch a few plays of his tape you wouldn’t have any, either.
Of course, I know there aren’t a lot of NFL teams playing smashmouth football on offense anymore, so being a big-time run blocker doesn’t necessarily carry the kind of weight that it used to, but I still personally appreciate an offensive lineman who so conspicuously relishes run blocking the way that Taylor does. He wasn’t just making blocks — he was steamrolling people.
And some of Taylor’s double-teams with his right guard? *chef’s kiss*
Oh man, lining up between Taylor and the right guard and catching that double whammy wasn’t any fun at all.
But, just to be clear, Taylor didn’t necessarily need any help to put defenders on their back. That guy was like a grizzly bear out there manhandling fools.
Where Taylor separated himself was in being able to maul people in space almost as well as he was able to maul people lined up right across from him. I was particularly impressed with how he was able to work his way up to the second level and get on a linebacker and not only stick to them, but actually drive block them, too.
That takes good footwork, a lot of coordination, and uncommon balance for a man Taylor’s size. It’s usually a lot harder than it looks, too.
Don’t sleep on his athleticism, either.
For as much as Taylor likes to flex his physicality, the guy is seriously athletic as well. He can be a classic road grader type as a run blocker for sure, but he’s also quick and nimble on his feet when the situation called for it.
He was even excellent at pulling, which isn’t always true for a lot of offensive tackles. The few times Florida asked him to pull to his left in the four games I watched, he looked fast, fluid, and under control every time.
But those weren’t the only times that Taylor was able to showcase his athleticism. He also had to sprint outside to try to block cornerbacks on few screen plays.
It wasn’t always pretty, but he did a good job with his blocking in those situations as well.
With his athleticism and power Taylor should fit in with pretty much any running game scheme the team that drafts him might run. Whether he is doing a lot of zone blocking or man blocking, whoever is lined up across from him better bring their lunch pail and hard hat that day.
Oh yeah: Taylor can flat-out embarrass edge rushers, too.
Somebody might want to warn the pass rushers about him, because Taylor was not too shabby at pass blocking. As a matter of fact, I was really impressed with how often he seemed to basically envelop edge rushers at times. It wasn’t just that he was winning the rep; he was forcing pass rushers to abandon their hope of reaching the quarterback.
Time and time again I’m watching these different cats come off the ball well, but then as soon as they locked up with Taylor, it was like someone had flipped their switch to off. Their feet stopped moving and so did their arms, and they just kinda stood there waiting for the ball to be thrown after that.
I can promise you as a former defensive lineman who later went on to coach a little bit, those edge rushers did not want to see those plays in the film room with their position coach and the rest of the defensive line the next day.
You can bet that.
Let me also say that it is fairly uncommon to see an offensive tackle shut guys down like that on a pretty regular basis the way that Taylor did. As with his run blocking, he wasn’t just winning those reps, he was dominating his competition.
Even when the edge rushers were able to keep working their moves, Taylor was usually able to hold them off from getting to his quarterback. Whether it was a power rush or a speed rush, I thought he held up remarkably well in pass protection over that four-game span.
His pass set was consistent, his punch was good too, and he did a great job of not panicking when a pass rusher got by him momentarily.
His ability to recover and push the edge rusher wide on several plays where it looked like he had been beaten around the corner was one of the things about Taylor that definitely stood out to me. Not only did he not give up on those plays, but he was actually athletic enough to turn and catch up in time to keep those guys off his quarterback.
Taylor isn’t perfect, but he *more* than held his own against top-10 talent.
Having said that, there was something that gave me a little bit of concern about Taylor’s tape. He wasn’t beaten all that often in pass protection, but when he was it always seemed to be some kind of inside move.
Sometimes it was the pass rusher’s initial move. Sometimes it was a counter move off a speed rush.
Regardless, the fact it happened multiple times means it’s not something I can completely ignore.
This seems like a good time to point out that we have reached that threshold of draft season where I have done enough of them that I get to see some of the subjects of my previous draft profiles play against the guy I’m currently breaking down. I was able to watch Taylor compete against former Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and former Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat, which was fun because I have already declared how much I like those two guys as prospects.
I don’t think it was any coincidence that of the handful of times Taylor was “beaten” at all in pass protection, Allen and Sweat were the two main culprits. But, with the caveat that neither guy rushed against him a lot in either game, I do not believe that either guy came close to working Taylor over.
He held his own and there were a few plays where he gave them the business.
At the end of the day, no offensive lineman is going to win every battle, so I’m not tripping off of a few times when he didn’t quite get a couple of first-round talents blocked, especially when he didn’t give up any sacks in the games I watched.
I think Taylor should work on getting better at handling counter moves inside, of course, but I wouldn’t make a mountain out of a molehill. I saw him handle plenty of inside moves just fine, so I’m not exactly going to freak out about it.
Any team that needs a right tackle better not wait to pick him on draft night.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Taylor’s film because he really likes to get after people and it shows. I see him as a guy who can come in and start from day one at right tackle and be an anchor for his offensive line for the next decade, barring injury. He can be a tempo setter who brings an attitude and an edge to the running game and who can also hold his own just fine on passing downs.
If for some odd reason he doesn’t work out at tackle, Taylor also appears to move well enough to kick inside at guard if need be, too. At 6’5 and 312 pounds he has the size to play either position, and evidently the people say his arms are “long enough” too. I think he is worthy of a mid-first-round pick at least, and certainly higher for a team that either has a need at right tackle, and/or has to face several guys in that murderer’s row of edge rushers I noted up above.
Taylor will match up with those guys about as well as any right tackle could, in my estimation. So I suggest those right tackle-needy teams run, not walk, to turn his name in on draft night if they are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to select him.
For the purposes of this breakdown, I watched former Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor play against Kentucky, Mississippi State, LSU, and Georgia. Those represented the second, fifth, sixth, and eighth games on Florida’s schedule last season, respectively.