Stepfan Taylor: Senior Bowl Performance Will Have RB Climbing Draft Boards

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball against the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is a great time for NFL draft prospects to improve their stock early in the offseason. Few people helped themselves more than running back Stepfan Taylor.

Throughout his career at Stanford, Taylor was one of the most productive backs in the country. He finished with at least 1,100 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in each of the past three years and was a big reason why the team had so much success over that time.

Many thought he would have a drop-off in his senior season after the team lost two great offensive linemen in David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin plus quarterback Andrew Luck. Instead, he was even better and finished 10th in the country with 1,530 rushing yards. 

Still, concerns over his lack of speed have caused scouts to keep him low on the list of draft prospects. Most will list Giovani Bernard and Eddie Lacy at the top, plus a bunch of other running backs before Taylor.

This should change after a great performance at the Senior Bowl.

The week of practices prior to the game is often just as important as the event itself because it gives coaches a chance to see what players would be like on their teams. Although the decreased level of contact should have diminished Taylor's value, he was still able to impress coaches with his ability to always be in the right spot on the field.

When the game started is where he truly shined, though. In only nine carries, Taylor rushed for 53 yards, including one that went for 20 yards.

He showed his strength and his ability to break tackles, which is something that is hard to judge in practice. He can hit open holes as fast as anyone in the nation and runs hard when he gets there.

Although he might never be a player that breaks long gains, this type of runner is more valuable over the course of a season.

In addition, Taylor showed that he can be an every-down back by catching two passes out of the backfield and being a good pass-blocker for his age.

While other running backs like Kenjon Barner and Johnathan Franklin also looked good in the game, no one else was as complete as Taylor.

It's likely that the Stanford star will fall to at least Day 2 of the draft if not Day 3. When that happens, the team that is fortunate enough to draft him will get an absolute steal.

Taylor is not the player that will excite general managers at the combine, but he is the one that will end up having success at the next level, similar to Alfred Morris with the Washington Redskins.

Without an elite running back like Trent Richardson in this year's class, teams should seriously consider putting Stepfan Taylor higher on their draft boards.

After a great career at Stanford and his performance in the Senior Bowl, this would be more than justified.