According to PFF, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is the popular advanced grading football web site’s 7th highest graded rookie through Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season:
7. RB JONATHAN TAYLOR, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Taylor has been a different breed over his last three games. Over his first nine contests, Taylor ranked 43rd among 52 qualifying running backs in rushing grade at 62.4. Over the course of his last three contests, he has earned a 90.0 rushing grade that ranks first among all players at the position.
The second-round rookie also leads the NFL in explosive run rate, as 12 of his 55 carries since Week 11 have gained 10 or more yards. Taylor is also second in broken tackles per attempt at 0.33. The Colts rookie recorded just 10 of those explosive runs on 113 carries over his first nine games, and he generated only 0.07 broken tackles per attempt.
Taylor’s improvement is truly uncanny, and he will look to continue this trend in Week 15 against the Houston Texans, who have the second-lowest-graded run defense in the NFL.
The 41st overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft has really found his groove as of late for the Colts, as he’s rushed for 331 rushing yards on 55 carries (6.0 ypc. avg.) and 2 rushing touchdowns during the past 3 games.
Having had a shortened training camp/physical team activities because of COVID-19 and been thrusted into starting duty earlier than expected—with starter Marlon Mack’s Week 1 season-ending injury, Taylor initially showed some early season rookie growing pains:
Jonathan Taylor in 2020:— PFF (@PFF) December 15, 2020
Wks 1-10: 62.4 rush grade (43rd)
Wks 11-14: 90.0 rush grade (1st) pic.twitter.com/jlbVCasuqG
However, he’s been one of the backs in the entire NFL—not just among rookies, as of late.
Taylor’s showing that patience is still required among promising young players—yes, even seemingly ‘NFL ready’ rookie running backs:
Jonathan Taylor has been playing out of his mind lately, ranks first in @PFF grade among all RBs since Week 11. pic.twitter.com/9n67nJ6Ek2— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) December 14, 2020
The speed and physicality of the pro game appear to be slowing down for him, and he’s gaining more confidence and building a comfort zone within the Colts offense.
At 5’10”, 226 pounds with a 4.39 forty time, he’s starting to consistently flash that tantalizing combination of speed and power—the former seen with his career-long 62-yard touchdown run last weekend, where Taylor outran the Raiders secondary (as he got up to the NFL’s 3rd fastest speed of 21.35 miles per hour among all ball carriers during Week 14):
See ya, @JayT23. A 62-yard sprint to the #ForTheShoe— NFL (@NFL) December 13, 2020
: #INDvsLV on CBS
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/3alYfT3slD pic.twitter.com/mJb2ELXmjp
On the season, Taylor has 168 carries for 759 rushing yards (4.5 ypc. avg.) and 6 rushing touchdowns, as well as amassed 31 receptions for 286 receiving yards (9.2 ypr. avg.) and a touchdown reception during his first 12 career games.
Somewhat surprisingly, given that there were initial concerns over the rawness of his pass catching and route running—because he wasn’t asked to do it much at Wisconsin, Taylor currently has PFF’s 4th highest receiving grade at +83.6 among all running backs (trailing only his teammate Nyheim Hines, Alvin Kamara, and Chris Carson respectively).
Taylor’s already joined some elite franchise company among former Colts rookies in terms of total all-scrimmage yards too—a group which includes two Pro Football Hall of Famers and a Super Bowl Champion Starting running back/Pro Bowler:
Jonathan Taylor just became only the fourth Colts to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards in their first 12 games, joining Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk and Joseph Addai.— Hayden Clark (@HaydenClark81) December 13, 2020
Needless to say, Taylor’s debut campaign has shown flashes of superstardom down the stretch for the Colts—as he looks to master the running back position at the NFL ranks.
J.T. has all the makings of a future workhorse for the Colts and arguably even the franchise’s next great bellcow at running back. Heck, he’s already been doing it recently right now.