Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor) vs Oklahoma

February 3rd, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

This is the tape many of you have been waiting for. Thank you once again to the irreplaceable Aaron Aloysius for delivering.

I’ve mocked Phil Taylor to the Seahawks in my last two projections. Let’s look at the footage and see what he offers.

This is tape from Baylor vs Oklahoma and includes every snap directly involving Taylor – positive or negative.

The first thing that really stands out is how well Taylor carries his 337lbs frame. He doesn’t look sloppy at that weight – he’s a pretty compact build. The comparisons to B.J. Raji are legit in that both have unnatural movement for a prospect carrying that size. The key difference between the pair, however, is that Raji is a much more flaccid body type.

That could be crucial if you’re considering endurance as a determining factor on whether this is a logical option for Seattle. A lot of people argue against selecting a prospect in round one who can only play 25-30 downs per game.

You can see Taylor’s mobility clearly in this video. At 0:21 you see a play where the ball is dumped off to the running back in the backfield. Taylor tracks the play and pursues the ball carrier, eventually making the tackle for a loss. There are guys 40-50lbs lighter who don’t move like that who are currently starting in the NFL.

Perhaps the best play in the entire video comes at the 1:32 mark. Landry Jones calls a play action boot leg to the right. Taylor disengages from his block and sprints to the left hand side. Jones can’t see a viable passing option so pumps perhaps with the intention of selling out a scramble. He initially ducks to run, but senses Taylor’s presence and ducks out of bounds for no gain.

Elite mobility for 337lbs.

The next play on the tape shows the main issue I have with Taylor – leverage. When he gets low and uses proper hand technique he’s nearly unblockable. When he goes high he’s easily washed out – and it’s the guard shifting his frame out of the way which leads to the rushing score. It’s a technique problem he really has to work on.

Even so, we see at the 0:55 mark the benefit of having that big force up the middle on run plays. Taylor takes up two blocks (center and right guard) and still manages to wrestle free and tackle the running back for only a short gain. His ability to carry two blockers is again flashed on 1:21 and when stuffing the run on 1:42, 2:47 and 3:20.

This is crucial in Seattle’s current defensive scheme. You want the LEO to find one-on-one battles with the offensive tackle and that means persistent pressure up the middle on passing downs. If one guy is able to take up two blocks, it’s going to create opportunities not just for the LEO but also the three technique.

The play at 2:07 excites me from a Seahawks perspective. Taylor lines up slightly exaggerated to the left and ends up rushing the passer from the outside. He beats his man for speed and forces the QB out of the pocket. The end result is a broken play and Jones throws the ball out of bounds.

Why is that exciting? It’s further evidence that this guy can play the 5-technique (or Red Bryant role). If he can show speed like that off the edge and provide excellent run support, it means he can absolutely play the two most important positions on Seattle’s defensive line (5-tech and nose tackle). At the five he has the size of Bryant but could be an upgrade as a rusher. As a nose tackle he carries blocks and eats up space. Realistically you could start or spell him as a rookie for either of Seattle’s current starters – Bryant or Colin Cole.

The pass rushing skills flashed at 2:27 also make me wonder if the guy can play some snaps at the three-technique. He swats the left guard away with an incredible punch and flies into the backfield. Jones senses the pressure and just gets an incomplete pass away before Taylor makes a crushing tackle.

Both announcers over react by saying it’d be a penalty in the NFL – Jones isn’t driven into the ground. The combination of powerful right hook and explosive speed stand out in a big way.

His penetration skills are further emphasised when he breaks through the LT and LG to block a pass on 3:32.

It’s only one game’s evidence and I would rather do full game research on at least 2-3 times before coming to a respectable conclusion. However, the skills flashed on this tape scream top-20 talent.

Obviously there are some background issues. Taylor was kicked off Penn State’s roster for an ‘off the field’ incident and academic struggles. Will this put off teams? B.J. Raji was similarly held back a year at Boston College for academic reasons and had some other incidents on and off the field - he still went in the top-ten to Green Bay.

Taylor only recorded two sacks in two-years with Baylor. Is this lack of real production a concern? Perhaps – after all Raji had seven sacks in his senior year and nine total in the two seasons before turning pro.

Having said that, I still look at the potential with this prospect and wonder if he’s going to make a big rise up the boards. If the 3-4 teams see him as a defining nose tackle (like Green Bay did with Raji) then he won’t last very long. If teams are not entirely convinced, he will last into the 20′s as Dan Williams did last year (#26, Arizona).

On this evidence there’s no doubt what so ever that Taylor is a first round pick – and he could be a much higher selection than a lot of people are grading at the moment. Time to do more study.

But if he’s available when the Seahawks are on the clock this April he has to be a strong consideration.

27 Responses to “Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor) vs Oklahoma”

  1. Ben says:

    I really like the idea of taking Taylor with the #25. The guy moves really well for a 330lb-er.

    One of the benefits of moving Red to the 5-tech position was that he wouldn’t lose leverage as much because he’d be working against relatively taller OTs rather than relatively shorter OGs. I think Taylor could similarly benefit from such a move.

  2. Matt says:

    That’s some good stuff right there. Regularly taking two blocks or putting pressure on the quarter back when he got a single block. Then there were at least three plays where he followed the play to the sideline. Impressive for a big man.

  3. FWBrodie says:

    He’s incredible at holding his ground, shedding his blocker and pursuing a RB. When he gets a lineman in his grips and standing in front of him, the lineman may as well be a tackling dummy because he’s done for. He does get high at times and almost inexcusably allow himself to be blocked. When he wants to anchor though, no one’s moving him. I’m not sure he has the closing burst as a pass rusher to be a guy that ever really tallies a bunch of sacks, but he definitely has a knack for getting into the backfield when he wants to and he will get sacks on occasion. With his build he should be able to get his long arms up to swat some passes as well. I’m with you Rob. I think if you pair him with a pure 3 tech, that 3 tech is going to get a lot of ideal one on one chances. Mebane has enough strength and speed to exploit that should they resign him.

  4. Matt (Myster) says:

    I appreciate how you take the time to call out Taylor’s weaknesses as well as how he can overcome them AND where he’d fit in Seattle’s scheme. I love him at the 5 technique! My only “problem” with this pick is that, assuming Bryant comes back healthy and ready, Taylor doesn’t really address any of the numerous areas where we have even greater need. I understand that team’s draft for need at their peril, but if there is a quality CB sitting there then I’d rather go that route. Still, BRILLIANT work!

    • Rob says:

      I think that’s part of the problem, Matt. Picking at #25 I can’t see a QB or a CB who would either a.) be considered or b.) be a value fit. You’re really looking at the 5th best CB prospect or the 4th/5th QB prospect and I’ve never rated Aaron Williams (CB, Texas) in round one. I don’t think this team will draft Ryan Mallett in round one and after him – there’s a huge drop at QB. The best position for depth in round one is the defensive line, which logically means the BPA is likely to be in that area when the team are on the clock. Such is the situation picking that late in the first. Everyone knows what I believe Seattle’s biggest needs are – but they won’t be answered without trading up. If they stay at #25 a pick like Taylor for me makes sense. He’s a potential long term starter and could end up being the integral part of the defensive line. You can build around a good hybrid nose tackle.

      For the Seahawks defense to keep improving it’s the kind of pick that would help the cause. But it’s also another case of the offense needing major draft investment and re-building that won’t happen. Seattle’s defense will be improved with d-line depth, but they won’t win a Super Bowl without a long term plan at QB and some more weapons.

      • Matt (Myster) says:

        Thanks for the explanation, Rob. I can’t argue with any of it, so I may as well go drink a pint.

  5. I would scream like a little girl over this pick.

    Taylor not only fits a need that some people underappreciate, but it’s a crucial position with the ability to transform the defense. Our back seven badly needs some interior pass rush to offset its coverage struggles right now.

    Stick Taylor on the edge and Seattle regains run defense with an extra boost in pass rush; stick him in the middle and QB’s lose their nice little pockets, shrinking their playbooks spiking Mebane’s production as well as the Leo’s. Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock notched 17 regular-season sacks between them without any interior pressure at all; a rotation of Cole, Bryant, and Taylor could be insane.

  6. NateDogg says:

    Wow, he looked fantastic against some very good competition. I have a hard time seeing him still being available at 25 if thats a normal performance from him.

  7. schnrb02 says:

    The more I look at Phil Taylor, the more I like him! Because of his athleticism I think he could play all three line positions (excluding LEO of course). Could you imagine Red Bryant, Phil Taylor, and Colin Cole or Brandon Mebane stuffing the run or collapsing the pocket and pressuring the QB! I have read that you cannot justify taking a first round pick that plays 25-30 snaps per game. This is true but his versatility definitely makes him a first round pick. I know the Seahawks covet versatility on the lines as well. Now I hope he will be around at 25!

    • FWBrodie says:

      Great point. Being able to fulfill a variety of roles offsets some of the value lost by not being an every down player.

    • I’m not sure Taylor would make a good 3-tech. Under tackles like that generally need to be lighter and even quicker. And does Taylor have the necessary hand-fighting and other pass-rush moves?

      • FWBrodie says:

        I’m thinking more along the lines of starting at one tech and backing up Big Red at the 5 tech.

      • Rob says:

        I think he’s really just a NT and 5-tech/Bryant… but the point I was really trying to make is it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to see snaps at the three technique if so required (eg, injury to Mebane with Cole NT and Bryant in his position).

      • schnrb02 says:

        I do not think he would be a great fit for the 3-tech either but I think he could do it if called upon. I see him mostly as a 1-tech tackle with the ability to play a little 3 or 5-tech. This could be very valuable to the Seahawks since this past season Bryant, Cole, Mebane, and Siavii all went down with injuries. I also think the Seahawks need to invest another pick towards the D-Line. I have read that David Carter from UCLA has performed well in the Senior Bowl. He is 6’5″, approximately 300lbs, and according to Rob Rang (Senior Analyst – NFLDraftScout.com) “Carter demonstrated good burst up the field and the strength to hold up in the running game.” Sounds like a 5-tech to me and right now he is projected to go in the 5th or 6th round. I am not saying this would be my pick, just looking at all options. What do you guys think?

  8. FWBrodie says:

    Another thing to think about is Lofa/Hawthorne. Lofa’s strength: making lightning fast reads and reacting before anyone gets a chance to block him cleanly. Lofa’s weakness: shedding blockers who are larger and stronger than him. Getting Lofa extra time, even if it’s a couple fractions of a second, to beat potential blockers to their spots could do wonders to his game.

  9. Scott says:

    Just curious, how many snaps did Oklahoma run, and how many of them was he on the field for? Then I would chart how many times he was effectively single blocked. Obviously he is lined up against blue chippers at Oklahoma, so quality of opponent isn’t in question.

    On the surface, I would like the pick.

  10. Alex says:

    I’m convinced. His real value lies in the fact that he can play two positions in our defensive scheme at the nose tackle or 5 tech. He can offer decent run defense and pass rush. He was light years ahead of his teammates.

    Seeing this film, I actually wouldn’t rate him ability wise too far from Marcell Dareus and ahead of Corey Lieguet and Drake Nevis.

    Alex

  11. Matt Q. says:

    how many snaps does B.J. Raji play per game? How about phil at baylor also?

    • Rob says:

      I haven’t sat down and tallied Raji’s snaps – but we’ll have that chance on Sunday I guess. I presume Taylor is spelled and plays 30-35 per game but that’s an estimate. A lot of people will cringe at the idea of spending a R1 pick for a guy who will only play that amount each week. A nose tackle also won’t be a big stat guy who gets the 10 sacks – which will put some off. I can see those arguments and really you have to be drafting quality in that position to justify it. I also think a really good nose tackle can help put the opposition in a lot of third and long situations – which allows you to get creative in rotation and limit the snaps.

      The questions I need to answer going forward are simple – does the talent we see in this tape represent a regular afternoon for Taylor? Will teams be scared off by his departure from Penn State and a lack of ‘numbers’ production?

      Raji blew up the Senior Bowl and this time two years ago was being talked about as a top ten – maybe even a top five pick. Taylor had a good senior bowl, but his stock isn’t as high. Is he going to be more Dan Williams (#26) then Raji (#9)? Is he somewhere in the middle?

      Watching this tape makes me wonder if he’s less likely to last until #25 but it remains possible – and while that is the case he must be an option for Seattle.

  12. Chavac says:

    I’m sold.

  13. Jim Kelly says:

    Remember how much better the Hawks defense was with a healthy Marcus Tubbs? He was rotated quite a bit as well. If the Seahawks were to take him, would he have the same effect as Tubbs did? Mebane, Bryant, Cole, Terrill, and Brock are, in my opinion, better run defenders than Bernard, Terrill, Booger, and Tubbs were collectively. You add Taylor to that mix, and not only should the run defense be better, but that should help the back seven as well.

    Remember when people thought Ray Lewis was finished? Then the Ravens drafted Haloti Ngata. Then Lewis was revitalized by not having to shed blockers. Does this sound like Lofa?

    I know Taylor has some off the field issues, but one thing stood out to me. he lost 23 pounds. I don’t know how long it took him to lose it, but it does show he can make a commitment. After the problems he had at Penn state, he could have just given up. He didn’t. From an outsider’s perspective, that’s pretty impressive. If he can keep it up, I’d be happy if the Hawks drafted him.

    • FWBrodie says:

      We’ve been deprived of having really talented nose/one-techs for a very long time in Seattle barring the small bursts of Tubbs. I think that is the root of the league-wide, long-term opinion that the Seahawk defense is soft.

  14. jhs says:

    This guy move real well from side to side for such a big man. Not just a bull rusher type he can fill a gap along the line.

  15. Another question for you, Rob…how well does Taylor perform in regards to his gap assignments? That was reportedly another struggle that Bryant had while playing inside, and he benefited from being moved outside and given the comparatively simpler assignment of setting the edge and destroying whoever had the football.