2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Keith Taylor Jr.by Alex Barbour February 18, 2021 1 comment
Senior Bowl standout! Keith Taylor has been pushed beneath the likes of Byron Murphy Jr. and Elijah Molden’s spotlights for years. He made a major showing at the Senior Bowl, where he had several good reps in 1 on 1 drills as well as in the game itself. With his insane length, Taylor could be a lucrative prospect for teams wanting a high ceiling day 2 or 3 impact player. Can lightning strike twice and produce 2 solid cornerbacks for Washington in this draft?
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Name: Keith Taylor Jr.
Weight: 195 lbs
Man Coverage (6.5/10)
Washington seems to know what they are doing when they train these corners. Taylor is quite sticky in short-range play. He is able to stay on a player’s hip very efficiently, but not to the degree that Elijah Molden does. Even against streaks, he can use his size and speed to eliminate the deep ball. With his size, Taylor has great potential in developing his deep skills further and becoming a high-end cornerback 2 for a team. His Senior Bowl tape (one-on-one reps and game tape) show a mix of high-level play and some holes in man: Tylan Wallace and Jordan Palmer had some reps that gained noticeable separation. He does get beat easily to the inside on skinny posts and some slants. Note: This scale has 5.0 as an average prospect, 10.0 as the greatest of all time.
Zone Coverage (7.0/10)
This might be the hardest category to gauge for Taylor for this past year. After watching every single rep, there are very very few pure zone coverage snaps. On those snaps, there were very few targets sent his way. It is key to note that he showed a few instances of dropping out of his zone and coming to the check-down before the ball even reached the target, which is a plus for IQ. It seems as if he passes off players too early which leads to gaps in the zone (see Stanford game for this instance), but other reports declare his high IQ in zone for passing off players. Given the lack of tape this year, the score will reflect a hybrid of confusion and trust in 2019’s tape. Taylor does have an amazing bail-out that gains 15 yards of separation in mere blinks of an eye, eliminating any deep shot in zone.
Taylor rarely punch presses off the line, but he does tend to be very aggressive in both his man and zone coverage. In short-yardage situations, Taylor is more than willing to stick to his receiver’s hip and stay there until the play is over. For his size, it might not be the best thing to try to man up George Kittle in coverage, but he should be fine against most targets in the NFL. Even Dwayne Eskridge had a difficult time in Senior Bowl one-on-ones against Taylor (granted he stumbled).
This is a tough category to grade for Taylor. Given the fact that he has one job in run support (which will be discussed soon), his run instincts do not really factor ever. Repeating the zone category, there were too few instances of zone on tape for there to be an accurate assumption of his IQ here; however, he did showcase some flashes of both low and high IQ during the games watched. His IQ in press-man coverage is unreal (almost Molden level), as he seems to know where and when the wide receiver runs his routes and breaks. There was one rep during the Senior Bowl where he did not adjust well to a rub as if he did not know if it was coming.
Run Defense (5.0/10)
Taylor has essentially one role in the run defense: seal the edge. He does this very well. Taylor is able to keep leverage outside and force the runner inside. This said he seems to not be a great asset in the run game besides that one role. He is sometimes timid, sometimes eager to tackle, and he is seen getting solo tackles broken at will. To be fair Taylor does have a few high-quality tackles (same bunny hop form that Molden has). As a support tackler, he assists very well. He also has poor pursuit angles. Taylor was seen many times taking the wrong angle to tackle when disengaging from a blocker. Unlike Molden, he does not adjust well, either. Bottom line: if he is outside of his one role, there is a solid chance that the runner may take it the distance.
Ball Skills (3.25/10)
Taylor has a major flaw: he rarely looks back for the ball. The awkward thing is that he does have instances where he perfectly splits the wide receiver’s hands to knock the ball out. Taylor also does this with minimal interfering contact. He has been seen to try to go for swats and not interceptions, even on easy interceptions. This may be Taylor’s worst trait.
Straight Line Speed (7.5/10)
Taylor never gets toasted. His loose hips allow him to open up and run stride-for-stride with almost anyone. He is no 4.3-speed corner, but he can possibly reach 4.4s and keep up with the competition. Cornell Powell had no chance of getting past Taylor on a streak that should have been an interception in the end zone. It did look like Marquez Stevenson’s presence had Taylor backing up early, however.
Short Area Burst (5.75/10)
Taylor’s burst is average. He is superfluid in his movements, but his lower body strength tends to be the issue. This is also seen in his weak hit power in the run game. He can cover a large amount of ground in a short period of time on his bailouts. This hinders the ability for the deep ball (frankly, this is also why he has few targeted zone reps). Taylor also seems to have a hard time going from sprint to stop. Palmer had his way with a deep curl in the Senior Bowl.
Positional Versatility (5.0/10)
Taylor has played some snaps at slot corner, although very few. He fits as solely a boundary corner. Taylor can fit a zone-heavy scheme that uses cover 3 very well with his bailout, but he also can be used in a cover 2 pressman or zone scheme that allows him to stick close with his man and not care too much about what happens over the top.
Competitive Toughness (3.75/5)
The flurry of timidness and eagerness to tackle provides a cloud over the truth behind Taylor’s ambition. This said, there are few plays in coverage that he takes off. The score is only lower due to the fact that there were spots of timidness on tape.
Taylor has disappeared in games, but it is a true mystery as to why. If it concerns rotating corners, put a 5 here. It just seems like it may be injury-related.
Day 2 stud alert. Taylor has all the talent in the world: he has size, speed, good press ability, solid bail-out speed, and high IQ. In a scheme that allows him to hide his flaws on manning in-breaking routes and deep curls like a press zone scheme, Taylor could flourish to be one of the best corners in this draft. It is rare to have his height and speed combined with solid coverage skills all at the same time. Only time will tell whether Taylor will be drafted to the correct scheme with the correct coach to use him and develop him into the superstar that he could be. In short, Washington has done it again.
Final Grade (62.25/100): Late Second Round
Player Comp: Quinton Dunbar