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Cowboys Senior Bowl Watchlist: Baylor DT Phil Taylor

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Phil Taylor is a big dude. At 6'4", 337 pounds, you aren't likely to miss him when his intent is to inflict the maximum amount of pain on your starting running back or quarterback. However, as much girth as he presents,  it's mostly fans of Big 12 and Big 10 football and draftniks around the world that know his rather common name. Phil Taylor is a candidate for the 2011 draft, and a name you may need to know as we approach April. He attended Gwynn Park High School in PG County Maryland, and I always love when local (to me) products join the Dallas Cowboys.

Taylor did have a minor legal dust-up while attending Penn State University. Charges were dropped for aggravated assault that stemmed from a fraternity house function.  However, it seems that these charges (of which he did receive misdemeanors) were the last straw as later that off-season, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno dismissed Taylor from the team. If the Cowboys do draft Taylor, you will surely hear about these character concerns. Taylor sat out the 2008 season and returned to eligibility for the 2009 campaign. Taylor finished up at Baylor.

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It's unlikely that Dallas will be looking for a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft, seeing how Jay Ratliff is a former All-Pro recipient and would seem to have plenty left in the tank. However, there always exists the scuttlebutt from fans and media alike that Ratliff might be even more productive if he was able to rush the passer from the defensive end position. That would mean a replacement is needed for the nose tackle position. Josh Price-Brent, drafted in the 2009 supplemental draft is a candidate, but not one that would preclude the Cowboys from drafting another one in this year's draft. Stars are instantly made by players taken at the top of the draft, but the middle rounds make champions. Even if not considered a replacement for Ratliff, he could easily be a rotational player that plugs against the run and keeps the Rat fresh for fourth quarter domination.

Let's take a look at the scouting reports from his time this week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and other scouting news.

Drafttek.com ranks Phil Taylor as the fourth best 3-4 DT available, #145 overall on their big board.

From CBSsports.com:

Pass rush: Though his job is usually not to provide primary pass rush, he can push the pocket with strength and flashes quickness off the snap and a swim move to get past lesser centers. Gives good effort to reach the quarterback if he sits in the pocket too long. Tries violent hands to shed blocks.

Run defense: Shows excellent strength and mobility as a run defender. Plays with leverage against double-teams and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Pushes back his man and spins off single and tandem blocks with balance to make the play. Moves down the line well, stays low despite his height to wrap up shorter backs. Willing and able to reach the sideline, takes deep angles to prevent huge runs. Defeats cut blocks and maintains balance to track down ball carriers. Gets low in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Does not dominate smaller centers. At his best when used in a rotation.

Explosion: Explodes from four-point stance into blockers, consistently getting push up front. Gets off low and quick near goal line to set the line backwards. Despite his size, flashes the quickness to penetrate the "A" gap. Requires double-teams to keep him out of the backfield.

Strength: Huge frame and upper-body development give him the strength to be a 3-4 nose tackle at the next level. Moves offensive linemen to either side with relative ease when covering two gaps. Forces fumbles with one hand punching at the ball while ball carrier comes through the hole. Uses leverage to hold the line against double teams.

From draftinsider.net:

Analysis:
Phil Taylor DL Baylor Height - 6034 Weight 337 Arms 33 ¾ Hands 3/4
 
Monday Practice Notes: The massive interior defender ate up double-teams and clogged the middle of the line. He also displayed a very nice swim move while rushing the passer.
Tuesday Practice Notes: A bull in the middle of the line, Taylor gets good push and can move offensive linemen off their spot. He did need to recognize pressure more quickly and fight against it.
Wednesday Practice Notes: Taylor started the day by blowing up the first run play of practice. He then was washed down the line the next play. He was hard to handle in the middle, but his handplay is suspect.

 

From Optimumscouting.com:

(Wednesday notes): On the line, Jake Kirkpatrick really stood out to me. I saw him multiple times handle Phil Taylor and Jarvis Jenkins, two different style defensive tackle rushers. He and the North's Brandon Fusco are right in the mix for the Top 5 centers.

(Monday notes): Phil Taylor was garnering the most interest.  The Broncos seem to be considering him for nose tackle, while the Saints were also paying close attention.  He showed good hands with a passable swim move.  His bull rush was very strong and he has the size and shape to become a force in the middle for years.