Scouting Report: Phil Taylor
Arguably one of the top nose tackle prospects in this year’s draft, Taylor has seen a huge rise in his stock since tearing up opposing offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. Despite some character issues, this 334 pound monster in the middle is a rare physical specimen who should be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL if he can learn to play with more consistency. He is a fridge on the defensive line who gobbles up double-teams as well as runners who come within his reach. There are some questions as to his effort off of the field, which showed in numerous 2010 games in which he seemed gassed as the game went on. Overall, he has the potential to be a brute force as a nose tackle if he can refine his game and prove that he has the mental strength to play in the NFL. I project that he will be a late first round selection.
Taylor is a handful in the middle of a defense. Throughout his time at Baylor, he was constantly double-teamed, which still wasn’t always as effective as the offensive hoped for. He clogs up the middle and often forces runners to bounce to the outside, where he continues to track them down with his deceptive quickness for his size. He does a good job of coming off low on the snap and anchors down well against the double-team, but struggles to maintain low pad level and can allow linemen to get under his pads. He has a tendency to take plays off and, if he isn’t putting in the effort, will just stand his ground against blockers instead of trying to beat them. There were several occasions where he was washed down the line and completely gave up on the play. However, if he feels that he’s still in the play, he can do a good job of pursuing and making hustle plays down the field.
Despite his lack of impressive speed, Taylor’s pass rushing ability is above par for the defensive tackle position. He moves very well for his size and is able to work as a battering ram to break through offensive lines while working his way towards the quarterback. He moves well with his size and has great power at the point of attack that allows him to bull over smaller offensive linemen. When he decides to not take the play off and actually uses his strength, he can violently knock linemen out of the way and wreak havoc in the backfield.
In general, Taylor possesses good awareness. However, due to his inconsistency and lack of constant effort, he doesn’t always keep his head up and can lose the runner in traffic. Especially when he takes on a double-team, he puts his head down and tries to bull his way through the blockers, not allowing himself to track down the ball. When in pass rush, he has shown the ability to read when a quarterback is releasing the ball and has the size to clog passing lanes. He does a good job of reading screens and was almost always the first Baylor defensive lineman to read and react to them.
His hand placement depends largely on what the offense is doing. During passing plays, Taylor uses his hands well to gain separation between blockers and uses violent club and swim moves to clear his path to the quarterback. On run plays, he often depends too heavily on his size and leans into blocks and doesn’t do a good job of keeping blockers at bay. He needs to do a better job of keeping run blockers at a distance and using his hands to shed them the way that he does on passing plays.
Taylor will most likely be drafted primarily as a nose tackle. There are some lingering character questions after he was dismissed from the Penn State football team in 2007 due to poor academics and being involved in an off-campus fight. He wasn’t very productive during the 2009 season with Baylor, but that may be attributed to playing most of the season with turf toe. Too often, Taylor has a tendency to take plays off and has shown some issues with conditioning and working hard off of the field, evidenced by his lack of stamina during games. However, the lack of stamina is to be expected with a 334 pound player, although poor conditioning is still a factor. He has the skills to be an every down player, but will need to see some considerable improvement in stamina to do so.
2010: Started in thirteen of thirteen games.
2009: Played in twelve of twelve games, including nine starts.
2008: Redshirted after transferring to Baylor in accordance with NCAA D1
Majored in General Studies at Baylor; Spring 2009 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Awards & Honors
2010: All-Big 12 Honoree; Second-Team All-Big 12 (Big 12 coaches, AP, Phil Steele, Rivals.com); ESPN.com All-Big 12 bowl team; Second-Team “All-Texas” (Dave Campbell’s Texas Football)
2009: Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year
Prospect Video Clips
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