Bronco fans have known for a while what NFL GMs are starting to figure out—Jamar Taylor has some serious game—and they may be paying some serious coin to garner his services this weekend.
Prior to the Senior Bowl, Combine, and Pro Day—Taylor was a well-regarded corner, but had the requisite knocks against him that used to be common for Boise State players. I say "used to" because Boise State's strength-of-schedule and conference affiliation have proven to be inconsequential of late, with players like Ryan Clady, Shea McClellin, Doug Martin and Kyle Wilson getting first round love in the last couple of years. Of course, all it took to jog their collective memories was actual viewing of Taylor's game film and then to see him back it up in person and on their stopwatches. Now, Taylor is 5 days from possibly joining Boise State's growing "First Rounders" Club...here's what the analysts are saying.
Taylor's pre-Combine bio page had him pegged as a 2nd or 3rd rounder, but after the Combine, his grade was elevated to an 85.5. What does it mean? Well, according to NFL.com's handy-dandy grade scale, it means that they feel Taylor is "an immediate starter" and furthermore, a first-round talent. For a little perspective, a score of 85-95 is considered a 1st round talent who could/should play immediately. A 96–100 is considered a future Hall of Famer. Nice.
ESPN's Kiper of bouffant hairstyle and "big board" fame, has Taylor pegged as a first-rounder in his latest mock draft, and heading to a team that will make Kevan Lee extremely happy—the New England Patriots. Kiper explains:
“ I'm not sure fans are too excited about Taylor (to New England), but he's been a recent riser, hits one of my top two needs and the board didn't break in my favor. If you see the pick-by-pick, both the top two wide receivers are gone, and Xavier Rhodes was taken by Denver just one pick ahead.”
The Patriots are in need of help at wideout, so this could explain Kiper's assertion that fans aren't "too excited" about nabbing Taylor in the first—but Taylor has worked out for the Pats and he feels they could wait until the 2nd to get good help at WR (he has them taking Oregon State's Markus Wheaton).
Boston-based NESN also thinks Taylor would make a good fit in New England, and have him going 29th overall to the Patriots in their seven-round mock draft.
"Taylor is one of the best press-man corners in the draft, and could fill in for Alfonzo Dennard or Aqib Talib in an instant. With a one-year deal for Talib, Taylor could play as a reserve for a year before taking over as a starter if Talib can’t be re-signed."
Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Star put together a pre-draft list of the top available DBs, and Taylor made their top five. The Star didn't put together a mock draft, but did mention Taylor in the same breath as Alabama CB Dee Milliner and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
CBS has Taylor listed as the 27th best prospect, regardless of position, in the entire draft. They also have him going anywhere from 17th to the Steelers to 35th to the Eagles. Furthermore, CBS thinks that Taylor's game (at this point) most closely resembles that of long-time Bucs DB Ronde Barber based on his "good instincts, a burst to close, reliable open-field tackling ability and a strong work ethic."
Where do you think Taylor will end up this weekend? Personally, I think it'd be pretty cool for him to end up with the hometown Chargers...but that would mean he'd probably slip to the 2nd round because I don't see him going in the first 12 picks of the draft. Though I'm not a huge Pats fan, I think I could live with him ending up there, as many predict, and being an instant title-contender.