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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: S Devin Taylor

  • The Draft Network
  • January 31, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - DEVIN TAYLOR

Devin Taylor began his career at Illinois State where he played cornerback. His banner year came in 2019 when he started 15 games for the Redbirds and collected five interceptions with 24 pass breakups. He took his game to Virginia Tech for 2020, transitioned to safety, and didn’t produce a great year. He initially struggled at cornerback before switching to safety and looked like a player in transition for the rest of the season. Playing a new position at a higher level of competition for a Hokies defense that was playing its first season without Bud Foster was not the best stage for Taylor to showcase his ability. While Taylor’s ball skills stand out as a strength of his game, he also has good size and athleticism. His experience at both corner and safety should be an asset for him moving forward. With that said, his processing skills, tackling, and passiveness are troubling components of his game. Taylor will need to prove himself on special teams and develop his game at safety to stick at the next level. 

Ideal Role: Free safety.

Scheme Fit: Split zone.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: Miami (2020), Pittsburgh (2020), Clemson (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Pittsburgh (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: Miami (2020) 

Football IQ: Taylor didn’t impress with his processing skills during his lone season at Virginia Tech. He looked like a player trying to acclimate to a new defense against a higher level of competition on a team that was in transition—because that’s exactly the scenario he was in. For the most part, Taylor stayed leveraged and did his job, but I didn’t find many examples of a quick read, fast trigger, or strong anticipatory skills. 

Tackling: It’s not all bad when it comes to tackling and Taylor, but he does get caught flat-footed in space and ball-carriers make him look silly. He’s not overly enthusiastic when he gets chances to be physical and lacks hitting power and contact balance.  

Versatility: Taylor is best suited to serve in deeper alignments when can stay leveraged over the top and use his athleticism to break on the ball. He doesn’t have the physicality or quick trigger to play in the box. He does have some situational upside to play in man coverage from the slot, but his best role comes as a free safety. 

Range: Taylor is a good athlete with sufficient range. With that said, he isn’t a quick processor, which limits his range because he doesn’t often get a jump on plays. In addition, his angles are not consistently correct, which takes away from his ability to cover ground. 

Ball Skills: Taylor’s ball skills shined in 2019 at Illinois State when he snagged five interceptions and logged 24 pass breakups. When Taylor is in position to disrupt at the catch point, he breaks on the football with good timing, technique, and he has secure mitts to take away the football. With that said, his ball skills weren’t nearly as impressive in 2020 with the Hokies, where I don’t think he ever fully developed comfort in the scheme. 

Run Defending: Taylor was not impressive at Virginia Tech with his ability to come downhill and fit the run. He mostly played in deeper alignments and was not overly eager to trigger and fill. As the last line of defense, I was disappointed in how often he was flat-footed and easy for the ball-carrier to shake. 

Functional Athleticism: Taylor demonstrates good functional athleticism. I never got the sense studying him on film where I thought he was athletically deficient despite his play speed often being slow. He has the requisite athleticism to serve as a free safety in the NFL. 

Competitive Toughness: Taylor lacks enthusiasm in pursuit and when given chances to be physical. He struggles to play off contact and isn’t an impactful finisher. He’s not the type of safety that is always around the football and he isn’t very aggressive. 

Flexibility: Taylor is a smooth athlete that has the fluidity to situationally turn and run in man coverage. His change of direction skills are easy and are not segmented. I don’t have concerns with Taylor being overly tight. 

Special Teams Ability: Taylor has minimal special teams experience in college, logging 23 total snaps that weren’t on the field goal block unit. His temperament for being physical and inconsistent tackling ability are not ideal for playing special teams in the NFL. He will need to embrace those aspects and prove himself on special teams to have a chance to stick in the NFL. 

Prospect Comparison: Husain Abdullah (2008 NFL Draft, UDFA) 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 65.5/100

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