According to Rotoworld NFL’s Hayden Winks, Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor should prove to be a capable pass blocker at the next level:
Pass Blocking Reps: 274th out of 349 FBS RB qualifiers
Pass Blocking Grade: 17th out of 349 FBS RB qualifiers
Colts’ RB Pass Blocking Usage: 24th (14% of passes a RB is in pass protection)
Taylor is unlikely to sit in pass protection often as a rookie. The Colts didn’t ask their running backs to block much last season — Marlon Mack was 38th among running backs in pass-blocking reps (37) and Nyheim Hines was 58th (26) — and Philip Rivers’ running backs were asked to block at the lowest rate in the NFL last season. A well-built back with a ton of athleticism, Taylor should prove capable on his limited pass-blocking snaps.
It’s relevant because one of the criticisms of Taylor during the draft’s evaluation process is that he had limited experience as both a pass catcher and blocker respectively.
However, Taylor has been better as a pass catcher than he’s been credited for at times—showing a lot of growth and promise in that facet of his game:
Philip Rivers is ready to check it down to Jonathan Taylor pic.twitter.com/ivWJaxCne9— Bruce Matson (@MetricScout) May 9, 2020
#Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor — Has the traits to develop as a three-down back in the NFL.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) April 6, 2020
Angles, wheels, flats, swings. Can flex outside. Expect to see more screen game targets as a pro.
Straight-line speed + power after the catch. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/rJOU4tpUjI
It’s also encouraging to hear that he’s a capable pass blocker now too—although theoretically, he always had the size and athleticism to at least be serviceable with the proper coaching from Colts running backs coach Tom Rathman in that regard.
From an athletic and production standpoint, Taylor was potentially a first round pick in this year’s draft who slid to #41 before the Colts traded up to take him in the early second round.
At 5’10”, 226 pounds, he ran a 4.39 forty time (the fastest among rookie running backs who tested at the NFL Combine) and had consecutive seasons of rushing for over 2,000 yards for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Taylor shows a dynamic combination of speed and power—with great vision and patience and should really excel running behind the Colts strong offensive line as a natural fit in their zone blocking scheme.
While Taylor may surrender some pass blocking reps to the Colts natural third down passing back Nyheim Hines—as well as his projected platoon-mate Marlon Mack at times, it’s encouraging to know that he can more than hold his own when called upon this season to protect veteran starting quarterback Philip Rivers—even if it’s potentially not all that often.