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College Football & the 2014 NFL Draft The future stars of the NFL

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Old 03-16-2011   #1
Section516 
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Default Draft Profile: Baylot NT Phil Taylor - NYJ

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: PHIL TAYLOR, BAYLOR

Widely regarded as the best pure nose tackle in a deep defensive-line draft. He has worked his way up the charts, likely into the late first round, with a strong postseason. Taylor was one of the most impressive prospects as the Senior Bowl.

At 6-3 1/2, 337 pounds, Taylor fills what the late Giants GM George Young used to call the "Planet Theory." Young liked to draft massive, athletic players because he said there weren't many of them walking the planet. Nowadays, they're more common, but the philosophy still applies, especially for teams (like the Jets) that run a 3-4 scheme. You need a widebody in the middle. After cutting injury-prone Kris Jenkins, the Jets are down to Sione Pouha at nose tackle -- and he's 32.

Taylor started his career at Penn State, but he was suspended and later dismissed from the team because of a campus fight. Taylor and two others allegedly beat up a man at a fraternity dance at the school's student union. Taylor was charged with felony aggravated assault, but the charge was eventually dropped. That didn't stop Joe Paterno from giving him the boot. The Jets, as we all know, don't mind taking chances on character risks. No doubt, security honcho Steve Yarnell has performed a thorough background check. Since then, Taylor has managed to stay out of trouble.

Taylor transferred to Baylor to reunite with a former Penn State assistant. Following a mediocre junior year in which he ballooned to 360 pounds -- he was heading down the street called "Talented, but fat and lazy" -- he went on a two-week mission with teammates to Kenya. He mingled with kids in poor villages and washed the feet of people who were infested with jiggers (sand fleas). "It was a life-changing experience, an eye-opener," he once said. "I had no idea how good we have it ... It made me humble myself to work harder."

Taylor supposedly came back a changed person. He dropped 20 pounds, finished with a solid senior year (two sacks, seven TFL) and helped lead Baylor to their first bowl game in 16 years. He recorded 52 tackles, the most by a Baylor interior lineman in eight years.

With his size and brute strength, Taylor has the ability to dominate on first and second down. He can tie up blockers and split double teams, everything you want out of a nose tackle. He doesn't offer much as a pass rusher. He can bull rush, but he's not going to out-quick blockers, a la Jenkins.

As with many big fellas, Taylor is dogged with questions about conditioning and work ethic. This could be an issue because of the lockout. If the work stoppage lasts through the draft, the rookies won't be allowed to work out and attend minicamps. That could be devastating for a player like Taylor.

ANALYSIS: Nose tackle is a "money" position in Ryan's defense, along with outside linebacker and cornerback. If Taylor is there, the Jets will have a hard time passing.

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