INDIANAPOLIS – Honestly, the numbers look fake.
What Jonathan Taylor did to opponents of the Wisconsin Badgers over the last three seasons is stuff you should hide from your children.
-Set the FBS record for most rushing yards (6,174) in a three-year span
-Only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,900 yards in three straight seasons
-Had 32 career 100-yard games in 41 career games
-Rushed for at least 200 yards in 12 career games
-Had more 200-yard games in his career (12) than games of less than 100-yard games (9)
Well, ‘run the damn ball’ at the college level is about to meet run the damn ball at the professional level.
“It’s kind of like a seamless transition, in a sense,” Taylor says. “Coming from the University of Wisconsin we want to focus on taking pride and dominating the line of scrimmage upfront, it’s the same thing with the Indianapolis Colts. So I feel like I’m seamlessly transitioning from one culture to the next because it’s the same exact culture.”
While everyone can see the incredible production Taylor put up in his three seasons in the Big Ten, the Colts didn’t feel the need to meet with the running back too often in the draft process, because he was a squeaky clean prospect.
Taylor’s character was highly regarded among the top prospects in the entire draft, which isn’t a shock for a guy who got into Harvard.
Unlike other recent Wisconsin running backs, Taylor tested out with some notable weight (226 pounds) and quickness numbers (4.39 40-yard dash). It’s part of the reason why the Colts believe Taylor will reach a level of success that previous Wisconsin RB’s didn’t in the NFL.
When the 2019 season ended, the Colts had two major goals for a critical offseason.
One was the need to go and out find more explosive players at the skill positions.
“He has the size and speed to be able to have good vision and when he hits it… Jonathan Taylor is an explosive player,” Reich says.
“That size and 4.3-speed, we want to turn those 10-yard gains into 50 and 60-yard gains.”
The Colts have said they will use Taylor and Marlon Mack as a 1-2 punch in 2020, but the future bellcow is much more likely to be the 41st overall pick.
Some questions are there on Taylor’s fumbles in college (1 every 53 touches, a high ratio compared to the NFL’s top runners) and what he will look like on third-down.
“There’s definitely hard work that needs to go in each and every single day to make sure that’s shored up,” Taylor says when asked about the 18 fumbles he had in 976 touches at Wisconsin.
And Taylor thinks he can be a 50-60 catch guy at some point his NFL career.
“I definitely do, especially getting to play with a legendary quarterback like Philip Rivers,” the New Jersey native says. “I’m definitely going to be ready to go learning a plethora of routes, plethora of protections to make sure that if and when Mr. Rivers needs me, I’m there and ready to go.”
If Taylor can achieve half of the numbers he put up at Wisconsin, protect the ball better and give something on third down, any griping about taking a running back at No. 41 should silence.