INDIANAPOLIS – Celebrating those great games is something college athletes (or any athlete) looks forward to.
Well, Jonathan Taylor produced quite a few celebratory moments in his collegiate days.
That’s what happens when you run for at least 100 yards in 32 of your 41 games played.
But when Taylor returned back to Madison from those Wisconsin road trips, his first stop wasn’t a party.
Nope, he was thinking about his body and maintaining the incredible numbers he was putting up for years to come.
Colts Director of Pro Personnel Kevin Rogers shares this story from scouting Taylor:
“These guys get back from their road games and the first thing they’re thinking is which bar they’re going to, which house party they’re going to,” Rogers says. “Jonathan would go back and get in the tub and take care of his body because he knew it was going to pay off instantly on Monday when they go back to practice.”
Rogers calls Taylor a ‘professional’ and it’s that high character which attracted the Colts to the dynamic running back.
The Colts had Taylor (41st overall pick) atop their running back draft board, just ahead of D’Andre Swift (36th overall) and Clyde Edwards-Helarie (32nd overall).
Probably the two biggest knocks on Taylor coming out of Wisconsin was the concern over the amount of tread left on his tires (926 carries in 3 years) and fumbles (18 in 3 years).
“When (former Colts President) Bill Polian was here, he always used to say, ‘The great backs, they get tackled, they don’t get hit.’ And I think that’s the case with him.” Rogers says when talking about Taylor. “You very rarely see him take a hit because he’s so nifty. He can avoid contact as he’s going down. And I’d say coupled with that, the fact that he’s a genetic freak. He’s got outstanding lean mass. He’s a professional…For a guy that has had as many touches that he’s had, I think he’s in the best possible shape.”
“A lot of the fumbling, a lot of that’s just effort, most of its very correctable,” Rogers says. “Our running backs coach, Tom Rathman, if there’s one guy that can clean up the fumbling issues, it’s him. He harps on it every day. It’s No. 1 for him.”
And Rathman, who saw his running backs fumble just once in 469 touches last year, believes they will get that corrected.
“We’ve talked about it,’ the former NFL fullback says. “We’ve talked about our four points of pressure and the way that we carry the football. I think it’s just the fundamentals of the game and the way you carry the football. (Taylor) can improve the way he carries the football. Looking at film, he understands that and he understand what we are asking our players to do when we talk about ball security and how important it is. I don’t really think there’s an issue there and I think that’ll it get corrected with the development of basic fundamentals that we harp on every day.”
Rogers has been with the Colts scouting department for nearly two decades.
He’s seen the franchise draft running backs in the first round (Joseph Addai-2006, Donald Brown-2009).
Seeing the Colts take Taylor in the top half of the second round was not a surprise to Rogers.
“I mean, the guy rushed for 2,000 yards for three straight years in the Big Ten. I think it’s pretty easy to translate all those skills to the NFL level,” Rogers says.