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NFL Draft 2020: what grades did Jonathan Taylor earn?

What did the NFL Draft experts think about the running back out of Wisconsin?

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the NFL Draft immediately after it is over is a fool’s errand. The players have not even traveled to the new city they will be playing in nor have they participated in one single offseason drill and people want to grade their careers already.

Now, just because they are silly, and often wrong, doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely fun to look over and then shout about! I love the NFL Draft because I consider it to be more college football than pro and occasionally I get to sound smart because I’ve watched Mountain West games early Sunday morning and know that the QB from Hawaii that the Titans drafted is a white guy with dreadlocks.

Anyway, let’s see what people online thought about the four Badgers who were drafted this past weekend! First up is running back Jonathan Taylor.

Jonathan Taylor

  • Yahoo! gave Taylor a B. “GM Chris Ballard moves up to Cleveland’s spot and makes some noise by grabbing a 2,000-yard rusher with impeccable character, speed and work ethic. Taylor’s fumbling issues must be fixed, and he might never be much of a receiving weapon. But he should claim the lead rushing role in the Indy backfield and give this offense another dimension.”
  • SB Nation gave the Colts a B and had this to say about Taylor: “If running back Jonathan Taylor can protect the ball a little better, the Colts have a player who can take carries from Marlon Mack.”
  • Walter Football gave Taylor an A+. “The Colts surrendered a fifth-round pick to move up three spots, and they selected Jonathan Taylor as a result. The reason for moving up is easy to understand. They had to leap the Jaguars, who are looking to trade Leonard Fournette, in order to secure Taylor. Running back wasn’t a huge need, but Marlon Mack is just an above-average talent. Taylor is a huge upgrade, and he gives Indianapolis so much more upside.”
  • CBS Sports gave Taylor an A-. “Best RB in the class. On par with Nick Chubb-Saquon Barkley athleticism, natural running skill spectrum. Complete package. Breakaway speed. Will thrive behind Colts offensive line. But is RB a big need for Colts?”
NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Pro Football Focus gave the Colts a B. “We all know by now that taking a running back in the middle of Round 2 isn’t ideal in our eyes, but trading up for one isn’t a great move. Indy traded the 44th and 160th overall picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to No. 41 and grab Jonathan Taylor. But Cleveland wins that trade 55% of the time, according to PFF’s Research and Development team. Taylor’s lack of receiving ability is something to be concerned about, but the Colts are going to run the damn ball with him. His size, speed and explosiveness are what you want in a ball-carrier. He got plenty of opportunities to carry the ball at Wisconsin and posted an 85.0-plus rushing grade in each of his three seasons with the Badgers.”
  • SI gave the Colts an A-. “In the backfield, NFL Films’s Greg Cosell has described Jonathan Taylor as an Ezekiel Elliott level of runner. Taylor weighs 225, runs a 4.39 in the 40 and is both efficient and explosive working downhill. He does not offer Elliott’s receiving prowess, but the Colts already have Nyheim Hines to handle their third down duties. Taylor may have just been too much value for the Colts not to pursue early in the second round, but also consider this: Marlon Mack is scheduled for free agency after this season. Colts head coach Frank Reich comes from the Eagles, a franchise that has prioritized having running backs on cheap rookie deals. If Mack departs in 2021, the Colts now have a ready-made starter in Taylor at an affordable rate for the next three years—maybe four, if Taylor performs really well. (And that’s not to say Taylor can’t contribute immediately in 2020.) At that point, the Colts could repeat the cycle all over again, drafting Taylor’s replacement and letting Taylor leave. Because the one blemish on the stud runner: He already has the tread of 926 carries from his time at Wisconsin.”