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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor

Zach Goodall

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Oct 14, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor (65) works out prior to the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to break down the most popular mock draft candidate that the Jaguars have had during the 2019 NFL offseason: University of Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor.

I’m going to be brutally honest here. While I understand all of the dot-connecting between Taylor and the Jaguars, and while I do believe Taylor is going to be a solid NFL right tackle… well, I think that’s what he’s going to be. A solid NFL right tackle.

And I don’t love the value of only a “solid” player, at any position, much less right tackle which I do value slightly less than left tackles, in the top 10 picks of the draft. If Taylor fell to the Jaguars 2nd round pick, I’d sprint to the podium for him. Hell, if Jacksonville was selecting in the back half of the 1st round I’d be content with a Taylor selection. But top 10? That’s where I begin to have some doubt when it comes to his value.

Anyways, let’s get to the scouting report.

Athletic Profile

Taylor, a three-year starter for the Gators, measured in at 6-5, 312 lbs with 35 1/8″ arms and 10″ hands at the NFL Combine. According to the Jaguars size thresholds at offensive tackle, Jawaan Taylor is a perfect fit.

His weigh-in at 312 lbs is remarkable considering his story. To start, he was listed at 328 lbs just this past season on the Florida Gators official roster. He lost 16 lbs for the NFL Combine alone.

In high school, he weighed as much as 384 lbs due to poor dietary habits, but with a potential Florida offer on the table so long as he slimmed down during his senior year at Cocoa High School, Taylor fully committed to shedding as much weight as possible to get in tip-top athletic shape. That season, he lost 50 lbs. That November, an offer from UF was in his hands.

This type of motivation is extraordinary and gives you an idea as to what kind of worker Taylor is, but is also something to keep in mind. I’d never assume Taylor would allow himself to put on that kind of weight given his effort and success to lose it, but you better believe NFL teams have asked him about it in private meetings. Front office members and scouts do “nitty-gritty” research into the full background of each and every player they scout. While I’ve never been in the room for a player interview, I’ve seen some prep work scouts do for interviews first hand. It’s… extensive.

FILM ROOM

Run blocking

The strength of Jawaan Taylor’s game is inarguably his run blocking. There are some minor concerns to be had with the technical aspects of his run blocking ability, but all-in-all this is where Taylor should make his money.

There are concerns to be had with Taylor’s lower body and core strength to be had in pass protection that I’ll go over later, but his technique in run blocking starts in his hands and upper body. He gets hands inside and instantly gains leverage with lower pad level, which knocks the defender off track and immediately drives through his feet to wash the defender out of the play entirely.

These same strengths can be seen in combo blocking in the run game, and his quick mental processing is a bonus that is repeatedly seen throughout his tape. A quick pop to the 4i-technique defensive end to add leverage in the guard’s block, and quickly identifying the pursuit-linebacker coming across the formation vs. the Wildcat play. Taylor gets off the lineman and meets the LB before he can enter the rush lane.

Taylor has a great sense of how to direct his blocks, which is an indicator of his mental processing that he flashed numerous times during my three-game evaluation. Here he quickly gets his inside foot to the open gap from the guard shooting to the second level in order to prevent a gap-shoot and immediately follows with a punch to the defensive ends chest and directing his back towards the sidelines while the counter develops. With this quick, initial leverage, meshed with upper-body strength and feet that are constantly chopping, Taylor totally controls the direction of the block and creates a wide-open hole and let the RB find daylight.

With the left tackle pulling across the line through the right side B-gap to create this counter, Taylor kicks the head-up defensive end way outside of the box and maintains steady contact and leverage in order for the pull to fully commence and lead block the running back down the field. This is something you wish to see more when Taylor kicks ends out of the play – maintaining the block and leverage in case the interior can’t sustain through the RB crossing the LOS, but this is a great example of it all working out. The play below, however, displays that this can sometimes be an inconsistency of Taylor’s…

Leverage and balance issues

Taylor lands a really great initial punch here, but the iOL can’t hold up to it’s end of the bargain to let the run play reach it’s potential as the RB is meant to cut up towards the B-gap. Is that Taylor’s fault? Absolutely not. However, Taylor immediately getting pushed back into the run play – before the RB would have even crossed the LOS if the play ran smoothly – is a bit of a concern to me when we’re discussing a right tackle as a top-10 prospect. Leverage is a huge part of an offensive lineman’s evaluation, and when a prospect is being considered a top-10 pick, it’s okay to be a bit nit-picky at what truly could be something that needs further development.

Working inside, Taylor gets cross-chopped by the head-up defensive end and thrown off balance out of the play. If the tight end wasn’t there to clean up for Taylor getting knocked off of his block immediately, the running back gets swallowed up for a loss here.

More of the same here, Taylor shoots slightly inside to the 4i-technique defensive end and gets popped vertical as both he and the DE lock out their arms. The DE’s lower pad level and center of gravity generate enough power to pull Taylor out of his stance and away from the developing block before the pulling left guard gets through the gap to clear space. The DE who washed Taylor out of the play is in on the tackle for loss and the run play is unsuccessful.

I think Taylor’s athletic ability will allow him to grow as a run-blocker in space, but seeing him get knocked out of his stance – and in this clip, into the dirt – when adjusting to an interior defender moving outside gives me pause. I hate seeing offensive linemen on the ground, unless there’s a defensive player squashed in between the offensive lineman and the grass. And if this is happening vs. college defensive linemen, Taylor will have some technical work to do to ensure it doesn’t happen vs. bigger, strong NFL defenders.

Pass protection

We really start to see the athlete Taylor is at his size in pass protection when he begins to work on an island, as well as where his body strength comes from. His feet are quick and choppy, which makes him excellent at mirroring pass rush counters and defensive ends trying to get wide. Here, he’s tasked with doing just that against one of the best pass rushers in football last year and first round draft prospect Brian Burns.

Burns possesses elite quickness and explosion traits as seen in his athletic testing scores, and he’s incredibly bendy – this was not an easy matchip for Taylor to mirror, and he did it just fine with nimble steps. My issue with this play comes at first contact though, as Burns played at 235 lbs compared to Taylor at 328, yet Burns knocks Taylor off of his feet at first contact. Taylor recovers when his feet meet the ground and anchors with hands inside to redirect Burns, but this is where I begin to worry about Taylor’s core/lower body strength compared to his superior upper body strength.

Again, Burns gets Taylor up and off of his feet through Taylor’s pass set and forces him to recover with no initial leverage – with a one-arm bar move, much less. Taylor needs to get his hands up sooner to prevent this with his and not allow the rush to come to him so easily. He’s got the size and athleticism to beat this, but needs to improve on his leverage and initiate with more core power to stone-wall pass rushers. However, these are teachable issues. It knocks Taylor’s worth to me as it makes him a less “safe” offensive line prospect out of the gate, but I do believe he can improve in these areas with solid coaching.

A huge part of scouting offensive linemen is understanding where they’re at in terms of mental processing, and Taylor gets an A+ here. In my three games of watching him, I never saw Taylor blow an assignment, he always had an eye out for diagnosing blitzes pre-snap and alerting the rest of the line when he picked one up, and he handled pass rush stunts with ease.

His process handling stunts are seen in the two plays above, and they’re super smooth. Taylor keeps his eyes even with the two defenders that he splits in his pre-snap position, and keeps his feet both moving and balanced without dedicating himself to one rusher in order to seamlessly transition from blocking one to the next. If he were to over-pursue the outside rusher, the inside rusher would manuever to the outside and use Taylor’s initial responsibility to bend around and create a pressure, but Taylor’s patience to let the stunt develop chalks him up with a win on both reps. This maturity as a blocker is fantastic to see out of an ascending draft prospect.

Taylor diagnoses the defensive back-blitz and sends out an alert pre-snap, and proceeds to stay in front of the defensive end working outside in order to let the right guard work his way out – all while getting deep enough to eliminate the defensive back from making any impact. If there’s one thing to be said about Jawaan Taylor, it’s that he’s a smart football player.

Against the often projected top-5 pick Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen, Taylor once again shows off excellent mirroring skills through the pass rush counter. While he needs to get his hands up quicker to consistently beat counters in the NFL, he finds a way to get his hands inside through the counter as Allen attempts to convert speed-to-power, and shuts down the rush for the QB to get the ball out.

All in all, Taylor’s lack of lower and core body strength is currently an issue for him as he tries to generate power and leverage through his pass blocking anchors, but his mental awareness and swift mobility on an island – with tape proving so against elite talents – are really impressive, and provide enough intrigue for teams to want to develop him.

Penalty issues…

Pro Football Focus had Taylor marked down for 12 penalties in 2018, nearly one penalty a game. On top of that, there were multiple no-calls for false starts on Taylor where he got overly jumpy before the ball would snap. I even counted three early jumps that went un-called vs Kentucky in the first quarter alone.

Taylor needs to gain some discipline about his pre-snap jumping, or else it will hurt his team in key situations… just like it did on 3rd and 10, down by 12 points with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter against Georgia this past season. The Gators proceeded to punt on 4th down.

While I just attested to Taylor’s mental awareness as a blocker above, his penalty issues are major and he will need to focus on fixing immediately as he transitions into an NFL offensive lineman.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great size for the position that meets the Jaguars thresholds perfectly
  • Moves really, really well at his size. Most evident on kick slides and mirroring in pass protecion
  • Mirroring edge rushers is one of his best attributes
  • Upper body strength is apparent, utilizes it well when down-blocking to win in the run game
  • Constantly chopping feet to drive out run blocks
  • Mental processing is elite for college prospect
  • Three year starter
  • Motivated player, lost 50 lbs in one season to earn scholarship
  • Held his own consistently vs. top SEC competition and high caliber pass rushers

Cons

  • Lower/core strength far less utilized, which makes pass blocking anchor inconsistent
  • Technique to gain leverage needs improvement, specifically in space
  • Loses balance vs. interior defenders working outside
  • Slow to get hands up in 1v1’s, which only hurts ability to gain leverage
  • Significant penalty issues, both called and uncalled
  • Only one “good” season despite starting three straight
  • Held out of Combine due to hamstring injury, didn’t participate in Pro Day drills a month later

Conclusion

I understand the hype surrounding Jawaan Taylor. In one season under a new coaching staff, Taylor became a bright spot in the Florida Gators offense and shot himself up draft boards. His ability as a run blocker, athleticism in pass protection football intelligence will make him at least a solid starting NFL right tackle, and he has technical issues and a knack for drawing penalties and being too jumpy before the snap that should give teams some pause before rushing to draft him.

All in all, while I think Taylor is going to be a solid player, I don’t love his value as a top 10 pick. Right tackle is a slightly less valuable position than it’s counterpart at left tackle, and if I was a GM I would prefer my top-10 right tackle to be a slam-dunk pick. Taylor just isn’t there yet as a prospect.

Jacksonville undoubtedly needs help on the offensive line, and quite frankly their entire offense as a whole, more than they need any positional upgrade on defense. Considering that, I’d prefer Taylor over a defensive lineman at 7th overall. But there are several other offensive players I’d take in a heartbeat over Taylor with the 7th pick. T.J. Hockenson, Jonah Williams, D.K. Metcalf, Noah Fant…

You’re getting a solid player in Jawaan Taylor. Just, that’s really about it.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee officially taken off PUP list

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 25, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) is carted off the field after an apparent injury during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially taken wide receiver Marqise Lee off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. Head coach Doug Marrone announced the development at his pre-practice press conference today. Marrone says Lee will be practicing today.

Lee has not practiced or played since his preseason knee injury almost a year ago today. With this progression, the Jaguars will go into the season — at least for now — with their top receivers active and relatively healthy. If Lee is able to make any sort of contribution during the start of the season it will be a major success for the Jaguars.

Currently, the Jaguars have relied on newcomer Chris Conley along with veterans Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark along with other newcomers to make up for Lee’s absence. It is not yet known how this will affect the Jaguars roster come the cut-down day.

The Jaguars have not announced a corresponding move as of right now. The roster stands at 91 until they do so.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 17, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Hood (30) runs away from Miami Dolphins defensive end Claudy Mathieu (60) towards the goal line during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signing of running back Elijah Hood.  As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released quarterback Tanner Lee.

Hood, 5’11” 230 pounds, was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders. After bouncing around on the Raiders practice squad for the year, he was eventually waived following the 2017 season.

Hood most recently played the Carolina Panthers, however, his time with the Panthers was cut short in 2018 due to a torn ACL. He will get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jaguars and potentially live up to his collegiate career where he accumulated 2,580 yards and 29 touchdowns while at UNC.

With the injury to running back Alfred Blue (ankle) this past Thursday along with other running backs on the roster, the Jaguars needed to add depth at the position. Hood will get every opportunity to make the team, but his chances are rather slim.

Lee, a 2018 6th-round pick by the Jaguars was finally released as a corresponding move to signing Hood. Releasing Lee will not come to much of a shock for Jaguars fans. Lee has struggled throughout the offseason and in the preseason during both of his seasons with the Jaguars. This leaves backup quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough to battle it out in the Jaguars last two preseason games — although it looks like Minshew has the upper hand as of right now.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones has inside track on backup job

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 25, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones (96) works on the pads during training camp at Dream Finders Home Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to sign seven-year veteran Datone Jones as a means to create more competition and depth behind defensive end Calais Campbell. At the time, this was seen as more of a roster-filler type move, essentially to make sure the Jaguars have enough bodies during training camp. However, the situation has completely changed due to the way Jones has played during the offseason and into training camp.

Jones, 6’4″ 285 pounds, was originally drafted 26th overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of UCLA he was expected to make a major impact along the defensive line after accumulating a respectable 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Since being drafted, Jones has bounced around the NFL playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.

Jones was not able to make as much of an impact on the Packers’ 3-4 defensive front after bouncing around from the defensive line to — surprisingly — linebacker.

For a short time, Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after his contract with the Packers ended and expressed the concern of a position switch during an interview with the Vikings update stating, “They didn’t tell me. I found out on NFL Network that they had moved me to outside linebacker, I kind of knew that I would have to make the adjustment or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wanted to come into a place where I felt most natural, where I could really showcase my ability, what I could really do.”

Having to make such a drastic change in his career path after being mildly successful — 73 tackles and nine sacks with the Packers — at another position impacted Jones. While Jones did accumulate the most pressures for the Packers during the 2016 season while playing outside linebacker, it still was not the appropriate position for him to play given his natural ability.

Now with the Jaguars, Jones is back along the defensive line and is thriving. With the backup strong-side defensive end position for the Jaguars being completely wide open, Jones has taken the opportunity afforded to him and could be apart of the first group of players coming onto the field for the normal starters.

The Jaguars have tried for a couple of years now to find a good backup behind Campbell. They drafted defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan in the first round just a year ago, however, he has switched to more of a fulltime role on the interior of the defense. Mostly a disappointment his first two seasons, defensive end Dawuane Smoot has also taken a backseat with the arrival of Jones, giving Jones the inside track to win the primary backup job.

Jones has taken that opportunity and has thrived. Able to come off the ball with speed and power, he has the ability to adequately stop the run along with getting to the quarterback. During the game on Thursday, Jones completely took over the Eagles offensive line. One play in particular from Thursday’s game stands out.

Jones lines up on the defensive edge and is unblocked, getting to the quarterback and knocking him (Cody Kessler) out of the game. These are the type of plays which illustrate why he has earned a spot on the Jaguars 53-man roster.

A rotation from normal starters Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Campbell to Josh Allen, Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Jones illustrates just how deep the Jaguars are along the defensive line.

This past week head coach Jaguars Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the defensive end spot behind Campbell.

“I feel good about where we are with our D-Line, I do. In other words, I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth. I think we have a lot of players there, guys that will probably be, if you look at the roster, I think that can potentially be the toughest. Who is nine, who is 10 if we keep 10, wherever that goes,” Marrone stated.

“Yan obviously looks great out there, but then all of a sudden [Dontavius] Russell, [Michael] Hughes, Datone Jones, I mean you have guys now, big V [Kalani Vakameilalo] is a big body in there. We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.”

A “tough call” that might have gotten tougher — or easier depending on how you look at it — with the performance Jones put on Thursday and throughout the offseason. Against the Eagles, Jones was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hit, however, it was his persistent pressure and pocket collapsing plays that set him apart from everyone else.

Shortly after the game, reporters spoke to Jones about his strong play against the Eagles. “I just wanted to go out there and execute and compete. I felt like I started off really slow the first preseason game and I felt like I owed it to my teammates to go out there today, execute and put my abilities on film,” Jones said.

“[I wanted to] let guys like Calais [Campbell], Marcell [Dareus] and Yannick [Ngakoue] know that I’m here to compete and I want to be in the lineup with those guys. I want to be here in Sacksonville, sacking quarterbacks. Preseason is all about coming out here and displaying and competing and just having fun with your brothers. Executing, you know.”

It is clear playing behind the Jaguars starting defensive line, and seeing the culture within that group has lit a fire under Jones for the better. If he can provide the same production he has done in the past, the Jaguars may have one of the deepest defensive line groups in the entire league.

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