PatsFans.com Menu
PatsFans.com - The Hub For New England Patriots Fans
Search

New England Patriots > Patriots Blog

In a Crowded Patriots Backfield, Keep Your Eyes on Taylor

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
2 years ago at 7:30 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

In a Crowded Patriots Backfield, Keep Your Eyes on TaylorSep 14, 2019; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back J.J. Taylor (21) runs the ball under pressure from Texas Tech Red Raiders linebacker Jordyn Brooks (1) during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the running back position being arguably the deepest on the team, the Patriots signing of Arizona running back J.J. Taylor as an undrafted free agent rookie after he didn’t hear his name called during the recent draft was a cause for excitement. 

Two reasons why he may have gone undrafted were Taylor’s size, he’s just 5’5, 185 pounds, and the fact that he didn’t test well athletically this spring at the NFL Combine. But forget that, if you turn on the tape, Taylor reminds the viewer as a human joystick and has tons of upside. So, even with the odds stacked against him, competing in a very deep running back position, he’ll be one of the more intriguing players to watch this summer at the Patriots training camp.

In 2019, Taylor rushed for 721 yards averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt and caught 32 passes for 289 more.  In 2018, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and totaled 1421 yards rushing with six touchdowns. He was also Arizona’s primary kick returner.

He is a much better receiving threat than his stats would indicate, it was an area where Arizona probably didn’t get him involved as much as he should have been.  His emerging threat as a receiver is somewhat offset by his smaller catch radius and height due to his size. 

But because of his small size, his center of gravity is low and he’s able to maintain his balance after contact because of that is difficult to bring down. He’s also able to run nearly invisible behind his larger blockers. Taylor isn’t afraid of contact and does well between the tackles. 

He has good vision and has the agility and burst to see an opening and shoot through the gap into the second level. His lateral agility, and the ability to make defenders miss will immediately remind fans of Dion Lewis. 

Taylor, because of his size will be looked on as a liability in pass protection, but it is an area that he did well in while in college. But it will be an area to watch as the Patriots put great stock in their running backs having the ability to protect the QB. Taylor is quicker than fast, so he won’t have that homerun ability if he gets to the second level, but he is electric with the ball in his hands. 

Because of his agility and the ability to change directions quickly, he’ll be a mismatch in the passing game when isolated on a linebacker who will have a tough time keeping up with him. Taylor has soft hands which should immediately on display when he’s out in the pattern in training camp. And despite his smaller size, he demonstrated good leg power and always seems to fall forward. 

With the Patriots always using a running back by committee approach, Taylor could fit right in as a change of pace, receiving back who is versatile enough to factor into the running game. However, with James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, and Sony Michel already ahead of him on the depth chart, it is going to be a very difficult spot for Harris to be in to crack the 53-man roster. 

Is it impossible? Far from it, but the odds are stacked against him at the start. But with the inevitable injury bug possibly playing a big role this summer, especially since players didn’t have any spring OTAs or minicamps to get into the flow with, it is a factor to be considered. Michel is still recovering from offseason surgery and could possibly begin training camp on PUP. And Burkhead has had a history of playing very well but having a plethora of injuries that have limited his availability. 

The kick return game could be an area where Taylor can cement himself a roster spot for 2020. But he’s bound to be a fan favorite once the team hits the field. Watching him stop, start, and change direction will immediately remind fans of Lewis. 

At a minimum, the Patriots will probably try to find a place for Taylor on the practice squad for 2020, then with Burkhead and Brandon Bolden (special teams standout) up for new contracts, he’d be a much better bet to stick on the roster. But by no means close the book on him this summer. 

He’s going to be fun to watch. 


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Damien Harris Dion Lewis J.J. Taylor James White New England Patriots Patriots 2020 training camp Patriots running backs Rex Burkhead Sony Michel

  • Subscribe For Patriots Content Delivered by 6:30am Each Day


  • guest

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    0 Comments
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments

  • More News Headlines:

    ICYMI: Randy Moss Almost Reunited With Patriots Prior To Retiring

    ICYMI: Randy Moss Almost Reunited With Patriots Prior To Retiring

    By: Robert Alvarez
    Randy Moss reveals he almost made a return to the Patriots prior to retiring during a conversation on ESPN's "Manningcast".
    5 hours ago
    VIDEO: Patriots Mic’d Up Sights and Sounds From Week 13

    VIDEO: Patriots Mic’d Up Sights and Sounds From Week 13

    By: Robert Alvarez
    Mic'd up sights and sounds from the Patriots' sidelines during Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.
    6 hours ago
    Lawrence Guy Named Patriots Nominee For Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

    Lawrence Guy Named Patriots Nominee For Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

    By: Robert Alvarez
    Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy is nominated for the NFL’s 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for community service work.
    6 hours ago
    Thursday Patriots Thoughts 12/8: Some Interesting Storylines Ahead

    Thursday Patriots Thoughts 12/8: Some Interesting Storylines Ahead

    By: Ian Logue
    Monday night's game in Arizona is obviously an important one for the New England Patriots, but it may end up being a critical one for…
    15 hours ago
    Wednesday Afternoon Patriots Notes 12/7

    Wednesday Afternoon Patriots Notes 12/7

    By: Ian Logue
    Some quick New England Patriots news and notes on this Wednesday.
    1 day ago

  • Search For Links: - CLOSE
    For searches with multiple players
    add commas (Ex: "Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty")