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Jonathan Taylor NFL draft profile and fantasy projection

The Wisconsin running back put up outstanding numbers in college, but does that translate to NFL Draft success?

Jonathan Taylor of the Wisconsin Badgers runs for a 10 yard gain during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Pasadena, California. The Oregon Ducks topped the Wisconsin Badgers, 28-27. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

One of the best college football players of the last three seasons, Jonathan Taylor brings stats from his time at Wisconsin that jump off the page. 926 carries for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns rushing, with 42 catches for 407 yards and five TD’s as a receiver. There’s not a better pedigree on any player in the draft in terms of NCAA success, but will it translate to the next level?

Scouting Report

Taylor is a do everything back, and his versatility as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker will help him. But the downside is ball security, with 18 fumbles in 41 career games, and 15 of those recovered by the defense.

Through three seasons, there wasn’t a better player in college football history who racked up more yards and awards than Taylor. A perfect fit in Wisconsin’s downhill power system, he proved to be the answer to many of their offensive woes. A strongly built and mature all-around frame help him become a nuisance between the tackles runner who also has more than enough speed to maximize long gains. Ball security has been a constant issue and one that he will need to be improved. With 926 career carries, mileage and remaining tread on his tires are other notable worries with Taylor as many are skeptical about just how long he will last after a heavy workload as a college player. For the time being, Taylor has the potential to step in right away and become an instant impact contributor, but the fumbling issues have to be coached out of him over time in order to become a reliable starter. — The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid

Taylor is the only player in FBS history to rush for more than 1,900 yards in three consecutive seasons. He is a tightly-packed RB with a great combination of height, bulk, quickness and top-end speed. His vision is outstanding, and he shows excellent burst to and through the hole. He’s a sudden runner with the ability to make sharp cuts on the move, and he can string together multiple moves in tight spaces. Taylor also has breakaway speed in the open field. He runs with good forward lean and lowers his pads on contact. He doesn’t have great brute strength but keeps moving his feet and fights for yards after contact. As a pass-catcher, Taylor’s production improved last season (26 catches after only 16 his first two seasons). He’s an adequate route runner but is at his best on shorter routes, struggling to adjust down the field. His biggest weakness is in pass protection; he needs to be more consistently aggressive and fight harder to sustain. Ball security has also been an issue. Taylor compares favorably to Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys) as a runner, but Elliott was a more physical blocker and has more natural ball skills. Taylor should quickly develop into a starter in the NFL but will need some complementary help. ESPN.com

Mock Draft Results

USA Today DraftWire: #28 to Baltimore Ravens
CBS Sports: #54 to Buffalo Bills
Yahoo Sports: #49 to Pittsburgh Steelers

Fantasy impact: Rookie year

There’s little doubt that in the right system, Taylor can be an elite, workhorse back right away. And because of that pass-catching ability and blocking, he can be out there on all three downs as soon as his first season in the league. If he goes to the right team, you can see instant benefits from him with a ceiling as high as Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley had in their initial NFL campaigns. Both guys were huge successes in college, and while Taylor might not be as explosive, he’s got the pedigree and every-down ability.

Fantasy impact: Career

If there is a downside to Taylor, it’s that the amount of work he’s put in during three seasons in Madison might keep his NFL career shorter. There’s still plenty of tread on his tires, and there were no injury concerns raised at the Combine, but no player in college football took more of a beating via usage the last three seasons. In a keeper fantasy league, it’s something to be aware of during the draft process.