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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 vs. Texans: Five observations, red zone issues remain

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws under pressure from the Houston Texans defensive line men during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) will be left with a lot to work on during their bye week. There was plenty to gather from the team’s 26-3 loss against the Houston Texans (6-3) in London.

1. Jaguars red-zone woes are still prevalent and have no fix in sight

In the red zone this season, the Jaguars have completed 34.5% (10/29) of their opportunities for touchdowns.  This ranks only better than the Cincinnati Bengals (33.33%) in the entire NFL.

While quarterback play is an issue in this area, the Jaguars have not made the most of their play-call opportunities either. The Jaguars entered the Houston Texans’ red zone only twice in 11 drives on Sunday.

During the two drives in the red zone, the Jaguars completed 0 passes and ran the ball one other time with Leonard Fournette for three yards. Simply not good enough.

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has spoken about the team’s ineffectiveness on red zone opportunities. “We moved the football well, but we need to do a better job in the red zone,” DeFilippo said on Thursday following the team’s week seven victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I need to do a better job of helping our guys get open. We need to do a better job executing and being more detailed and throwing the ball on time and all of those things. Again, all of that starts with me, and I will do a better job with that.”

Two weeks later and the team’s struggles have continued.

2. Gardner Minshew might take a backseat

Already discussed, the Jaguars might be in for a quarterback change coming out of their week 10 bye week. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in Sunday’s game, and head coach Doug Marrone will have a tough decision to make.

Although Minshew was playing with a sore right shoulder, he was able to practice in full all week leading up to their matchup at Wimbley. Regardless, the Jaguars will have to make a decision, and everything points to Nick Foles being the team’s starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in week 11.

Now completely Minshew’s fault, his struggles in the red zone have been evident for the past several weeks. Foles — during the 2017 and 2018 seasons when he started for the Philidelphia Eagles — was efficient in the red zone, which could point to his maturity as a passer more than anything.

The Jaguars will want to see what they can get out of their veteran quarterback, and there is a reason to believe the Jaguars’ head coach is leaning in this direction. If Foles is not named the starting quarterback next Sunday, it is very likely the veteran will never start for this Jaguars team, at least not under the current staff.

3. Jaguars’ run-defense regressed

Without starting nickel corner D.J. Hayden and SAM linebacker Leon Jacobs, the Jaguars were forced to remain in their nickel package for much of the day. Rookie cornerback Breon Borders replaced Hayden in the starting lineup and while he was not the reason why the run defense suffered, not having a competent linebacker on the strong side of the ball impacted the team greatly.

Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Jaguars’ defense 19 times for 160 yards during Sunday’s matchup. Part of the reason why the Jaguars were unable to stop the Texans’ running game late was the sheer amount of plays the Texans ran to begin the game.

In the first quarter, the Texans ran 20 total plays while the Jaguars offense was only able to produce nine total plays.

4. Jaguars cannot rely on penalties, but two changed the course of the game

While the Jaguars should not, and cannot rely on penalties, the team had two costly controversial calls in the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup.

With an opportunity to score, Minshew threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. who was able to haul in the pass but was called for offensive pass interference. A few plays later the Jaguars would botch a field goal attempt and give the Texans the football at the 50-yard line.

Following the change of possession, Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Specifically, Campbell was called for lowering his head to initiate contact with a defenseless rusher. The Texans would net only a field goal on this drive, but it was a potential 10-point swing as Chark’s interference call was questionable, and Campbell did not even touch Watson on the play.

5. Keelan Cole shines in Dede Westbrook’s absence

Although the Jaguars clearly missed their 1B receiver in Dede Westbrook, rarely-utilized receiver Keelan Cole was able to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season, and possibly since 2017.

While it was not sensational, Cole hauled in five out of six of his targets for 80 yards on the day. The Jaguars could not get anything going down the field, however, Cole was able to get open on routine crossing routes.

In the coming weeks, look for Cole to have a bigger role in the Jaguars offense, especially with veteran receiver Chris Conley playing so up-and-down (2 receptions on 7 targets for 32 yards).

DeFilippo recently spoke about Cole and understands the third-year receiver may be frustrated with his snap count.

“I am proud of the way he stayed in it and even though he has not gotten the playing time,” DeFilippo said after the Jaguars victory over Bengals. “Everyone wants to play every snap. I’m sure he wants [more playing time]. He has done a great job staying in it.”

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Jaguars to make tough decision next week, Minshew Mania over for now

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass in the first half against the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) were embarrassed early Sunday morning via a 26-3 loss to the rival Houston Texans (6-3). Minshew-Mania may be over for now, but it won’t be the last time the rookie sensation starts for the team.

To put it simply, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not play well at all yesterday. Completing 27/47 (57%) of his passes for 309 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles lost, Minshew looked lost during the second half of the game on Sunday.

Minshew has been everything the team could have hoped for — and much more — out of a sixth-round quarterback, but between what transpired yesterday, and a few of his past performances — against winning teams –, the Jaguars will likely see what they can get out of veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

For three quarters, Minshew looked okay. While there was plenty that went wrong, the rookie was able to make key throws, during key situations. One play, in particular, stands out. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Jaguars could not seem to get anything going before Minshew scrambles around and eventually finds a wide-open Ryquell Armstead in the middle of the field. Armstead would take the ball 31 yards and set the team up for their only points of the game.

Minshew’s ability to improvise has been his bread and butter this season, and although he was not able to work his magic often against the Texans, these were the types of plays that gave pause in the Minshew/Foles debate.

During the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and Minshew were forced to take more shots downfield in a sort of desperation move while trailing 19-3. Although playcalling can certainly be questioned, the decision making of the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was equally perplexing. Throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, Minshew had no chance at making a little magic to lead the team to another come-from-behind victory.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be forced to make a decision on his quarterback, but not right now. After the game, Marrone indicated he will wait until the Sunday before the team returns from their week 10 bye week to talk to both quarterbacks.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I’m going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don’t have to make a decision and have time,” Marrone said shortly after the game when asked about making the quarterback decision. “That’s what I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I’ll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we’ll be able to discuss where we’re going to go. That’s pretty much my plan.”

While Minshew did not have a great game yesterday, the decision will be made on more than just one game, Marrone said.

The Jaguars’ head coach is stuck with an incredibly tough decision. At 4-5, the team needs a spark. The Jaguars need to win down the stretch and having to rely on a rookie — still going through ups and downs — is exhausting. While Foles may not be “the answer”, he is the only other option at this moment, and the Jaguars absolutely believe in the veteran.

Although this may be the end of Minshew starting in Jacksonville this season, his achievements — 188/307 (61%) completions for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — should not go unnoticed. The team absolutely still believes in the rookie quarterback, and he has a golden opportunity — if not this season — next year to prove everyone wrong.

One of the best, most fun performances out of a Jaguars’ quarterback over the first half of the season ever, is nothing to get upset about. Minshew provided spectators with Minshew-Mania, Minshew-Magic, and any other Minshew-ism one can think of.

For now, it is very likely Foles will make his Jaguars’ debut once again after breaking his left clavicle during the opening game of the season. In 11 plays this season Foles completed five out of eight of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

It may be over for now, but this is just the beginning, and having the problem of deciding between a former Superbowl MVP and a rookie sensation at quarterback is a good thing. Depending on how Foles plays — if he is to be named the starter next Sunday –, Minshew could get yet another opportunity as the Jaguars progress from their 4-5 record.

Bonus clip:

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars fail to seize opportunity in London, falling 26-3 to Houston Texans

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rushes for a first down during the first half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) fell to Houston Texans (6-3) in a disappointing pre-bye week game in London, England. The Jaguars absolutely did not have home-field advantage on the day. 

The Jaguars took to their annual London voyage with a lot of optimism, however, all of that optimism was quickly quieted by the Houston Texans (6-3) as they were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, holding the team to just three points on the day.  The Texans would win 26-3 and kill any chances the Jaguars may have had at earning the division title in a few weeks.

To begin the game, the Jaguars opted to start out on defense with the Texans struggling early on in games this season. Holding the Texans to just three points to start the game, the Jaguars defense showed up big, especially as Jaguars’ cornerback A.J. Bouye shadowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who finished with just eight receptions for 48 yards. The Jaguars seemed to find a groove early on during the first half of the game, but their inability to score in the red zone reared it’s head yet again.

In what is likely his last game starting for the Jaguars this season — at least for now — Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed just 27 out of 47 of his passes for 309 yards and two interceptions. Minshew also fumbled the football two times near the end of the game, which would ultimately end it at Wembley stadium.

While the Jaguars defense played well early on, they stood no chance against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson who completed 22 out of 28 of his passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely elusive, Watson was able to escape from the Jaguars pass rushers all day long. The Texans effectively ended any chance of the Jaguars coming back after Watson completed a long throw to Hopkins for 21 yards to the Jaguars’ one-yard line. The Texans would score on a one-yard run by Duke Johnson putting the team up 19-3 late in the third quarter.

All four of Minshew’s turnovers would come in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars attempted to climb back in the game. Missing their second-most targetted wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars and Minshew couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game.

The Jaguars’ run game was equally disappointing today as running back Leonard Fournette could only edge out 40 yards on 11 rushes.

Perhaps the best play of the game by the Jaguars’ defense, near the end of the game Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde sprinted free and was looking to go into the endzone when Jaguars’ safety Jarrod Wilson showed incredible hustle to force a fumble at the last second, turning the ball over to the Jaguars’ offense.

The good fortune wouldn’t last long, however, as Minshew would go on to throw his final interception of the game to completely seal the game for the Texans offense.

The Jaguars’ offense simply did not get anything going today, similar to their game against the New Orleans Saints in week six earlier this year. Minshew was sacked only four times on the day as the Texans did not want him to escape the pocket.

The team will have a very tough decision to make during their week 10 bye week. Ultimately, the team will need to decide between veteran quarterback Nick Foles or the rookie quarterback in Minshew.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be making the decision, and after falling 26-3 today largely due to the play of the team’s quarterback, it may be a no-brainer.

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