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Colts’ Jonathan Taylor ranked as NFL’s 6th best RB in ESPN annual league survey

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor failed to make the Top 5 at his position, coming off an injury limited 2023 campaign.

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (ESPN), and an annual survey conducted by more than 80 league executives, coaches, scouts, and players alike, the Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor is ranked as the NFL’s 6th best running back ahead of the 2023 season:

6. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Highest ranking: 2 | Lowest ranking: 10

Age: 24 | Last year’s ranking: 2

After a historic 2021 campaign with 1,811 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns and an All-Pro bid, Taylor looked poised for the top spot for years to come.

But his 2022 campaign was challenging, missing six games with an ankle issue and running behind a porous line.

The Colts ranked 23rd in run block win rate in 2022, compared to seventh the year before.

As one NFL personnel executive sees it, this reality showed the strengths and shortcomings of Taylor’s game.

“He’s got top-end speed and can get the tough yards, but he’s not a creative guy who can do it on his own,” the executive said. “He needs it blocked up and then he can make it happen.”

Honestly, that last quote by that league executive rubs me the wrong way, because I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Taylor ‘make something out of nothing’ by shaking the first defender—only to turn a neutral or negative play into at least a few positive rushing yards.

He’s honestly very reminiscent of former Colts Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James in that same regard—both of whom are seemingly able to routinely churn out positive yards, despite next-to-no running space at times.

My other gripe is that even after Taylor’s down season, in which he was limited by a lingering ankle injury, I don’t see a world where he’s currently any lower than the 4th best running back in the NFL—and that would include the Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb, the San Francisco 49ers Christian McCaffrey, and the New York Giants Saquon Barkley.

If fully healthy, he’s head and shoulders better than either the Las Vegas Raiders Josh Jacobs or an aged Tennessee Titans Derrick Henry, with a lot of mileage on those tires and injuries beginning to pile up. Taylor should be a Top 5 running back in football right now.

And if fully healthy, he’s closer to Top 3—arguably even the #1 back in the game, if he can get anywhere close to his monstrous 2021 rushing campaign where he led the league in carries (192), rushing yards (861), and rushing touchdowns (18).

Let’s put it this way: