Fifth Round, 140th Pick
While there doesn't look to be any sure-fire top 10 picks at running back in the upcoming draft it doesn't mean there aren't quality players that could contribute right away once they get to the NFL.
Many thought the losses of quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive guard David DeCastro and offensive tackle Jonathan Martin would be too much for Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor to overcome and still have a great senior season.
All he did was go out there and pick up another 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior to become Stanford's all-time leading rusher with 4,300 yards and 40 touchdowns.
But how do his skills translate to the NFL? Let's take a closer look.
+ Impressive vision + Not a big-play running back
+ 3-down back + Lacking elite short-area burst
+ Low center of gravity + Will dance in traffic at times
+ Patience + Doesn't possess breakaway speed
Stepfan Taylor is an elusive running back that has a strong build at 5'11" and 215 pounds. He doesn't possess game-breaking speed but displays excellent footwork and body control in the open field. He keeps his pads low when running through traffic and displays enough agility to make guys miss when in space.
Taylor shows a great understanding of how to set up blocks and always seems to be falling forward after contact.
Taylor comes from the power-running Stanford offense which routinely leaves wide receivers out of their personnel packages. He'd line up in single back, power I, pistol and Wildcat formations. Stanford's offense is built on power and Taylor was the perfect fit for their system. He's a patient runner that understands how to setup blocks and run within heavy traffic.
Stepfan Taylor made headlines with his YouTube videos showing his 'other' personality he calls Kulabafi.
He was named one of three captains for the Stanford football team before this past season. He's known as a quiet leader and has been described as a 'lunch pail' type of player by his teammates.
Taylor displays a high football IQ and calm demeanor with the way he runs the football. You'll routinely see him wait on blockers and lanes to open up before making his move up the field.
This might be the most impressive trait that Stepfan Taylor shows on film. His vision is fantastic when running through traffic and once he gets to the second level. He understands how to manipulate blockers and to see lanes develop before they're actually there.
Taylor anticipates blocks and shows a good understanding of the blockers responsibilities. He's patient to allow lanes to develop and for blockers to seal their lanes.
Taylor shows soft hands coming out of the back field to make catches in the flat on screens or swing passes and across the middle as an outlet receiver. One of the biggest attributes Taylor will bring to the team that drafts him is his ability to stay on the field on third down.
He's a willing blocker that will step up in the pocket and take on a blitzing linebacker or defensive back.
As you'll see in the clip below, Taylor has no problem sticking his nose in there to give his quarterback more time to deliver a pass.
Running between the tackles
Taylor does a fantastic job of lowering his center of gravity when running between the tackles. Considering how much Stanford would go with heavy formations Taylor was often running within traffic.
He's a powerful runner that will press the hole and lower his head and initiate contact at the end of his runs. He possesses great body control and displays excellent short-area change of direction elusiveness with his footwork.
He doesn't possess an elite burst of speed through these cuts, but combined with his footwork and low center of gravity, these cuts are more than enough to make a defender miss the open field.
Taylor is the most elusive player in the country that doesn't possess top-end speed or agility. He combines excellent footwork with a low center of gravity and powerful lower-half to make tacklers miss in the open field. Or it at least allows him to fall forward when coming down.
You rarely see Taylor take a big hit. Taylor loves short, choppy steps when getting to the second level and he uses these to set up defenders or give his blockers a bit more time to finish their blocks and create a lane.
It's this elusiveness that is on display when you see so many guys trying to arm tackle him. It's not that they aren't properly trying to bring him down; it's that he's making these very subtle moves that keep them from getting a clean shot on him.
The combination of Taylor's low center of gravity and powerful lower-half make him a load to bring down in the open field. He does a great job of getting underneath defenders and delivering enough of a shot that he's falling forward if he's coming down.
Taylor is very good at using a stiff-arm once he gets to the second level and in the open field. He doesn't possess game-changing break away speed so he's often caught from behind once bouncing a play to the outside.
He'll engage with a defender that's chasing him down and try and maintain his balance long enough to gain a few more yards.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Taylor isn't going to be a featured back in the NFL. At least not one that we see highlight reels from each week on Sundays. He doesn't possess that kind of game-breaking speed. What we will see from Taylor is a solid complementary back from the day he steps on the field.
The elite speed aspect of his game is the only thing he's missing. He'll need to find a team with a solid offensive line and preferably a power run game.
He's at his best moving North and South and keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. He displays excellent vision, which will stand out for him once he gets out on the field because he doesn't have a lot of negative runs.
He's a solid blocker in pass protection that isn't afraid to take on a blitzer although he does tend to drop his head a bit and lunge at times.
He's a pro-ready prospect that could contribute right away as a No. 2 back but not someone you want to take the lead in your running game.
Taylor is viewed as a 3rd to 5th round pick.