Fourth Round: 132nd Pick
Melvin Ingram was a first-round pick in 2012, and Jadeveon Clowney is sure to be one next season.
South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor has been stuck playing second fiddle to the first-rounders, and while he won't go in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, he's still a legitimate pro prospect.
See what you have missed in his game while you were watching his more talented partners.
Taylor is a tall, long-limbed defensive end who disrupts passing lanes as well as anyone in this class. He moves relatively well for his body type, and can change direction much better than a 6'7" defensive end should be able to.
He is stout at the point of attack against the run, and Taylor usually creates some pressure from the outside on passing downs. Taylor has a good motor and awareness, so he'll get in on plays when he is initially defeated, or when they go away from his side of the field. He's also a rare defensive end who has multiple pick sixes in his collegiate career.
With a limited array of pass-rush moves, and little to no variance of pass rush strategies, Taylor creates most of his pressure with his physical tools. He isn't a quick-twitch player and doesn't play with urgency. Taylor lacks great flexibility, balance and power as a pass-rusher, and might have trouble adjusting to the better pass blockers of the NFL.
In general, Taylor is a player with much better tools than production, and he doesn't play up to the level of his physical abilities.
Taylor's 6'7" 266-pound frame is more than good enough to stay at defensive end in the NFL, if not play the position in a 3-4. His 36" arms just add to his length, which is important for batting down passes and keeping offensive tackles away from his body. Taylor's 4.72 40, 35" vertical and 6.89 three-cone time are all outstanding for a long-limbed end.
Taylor is a very bright player who attained a degree in Integrated Information Technology and was known for taking his classwork very seriously. He hustles and will almost always play to the whistle. Taylor sometimes loses track of the ball but is usually very in tune with the flow of the play, even on misdirections or quarterback scrambles.
Playing exclusively at defensive end in South Carolina's 4-3 defense, Taylor did flash some range to drop into short-zone coverage or follow a running back into the flat.
Watching Taylor rush the passer can get a bit boring. He stands up a little too high then tries to get upfield by attacking the tackle's outside shoulder. With this strategy, he is actually very successful at getting the quarterback to step up in the pocket even when he isn't able to fully turn the corner, because his size makes him flash into the quarterback's peripheral vision.
On occasion, Taylor will use an effective swim, rip and spin move, but none are strong enough to be trademark moves from him. He doesn't dip and bend to turn the corner like a natural pass-rusher, and he rarely uses any kind of inside move to change things up on his opponent.
Taylor can be surprisingly stunned by a chip block from a running back. His best contribution as a pass-rusher is his ability to obstruct passing lanes with his giant wingspan.
Against the Run
Long-limbed ends aren't supposed be great against the run, but Taylor is actually very good at holding up at the point of attack. He anchors well and doesn't get pushed back unless he is blocked at an angle and can't get his hands on his opponent.
In general, Taylor is a good physical match for offensive tackles, and he can sustain his penetration with good balance and strength as he flows down the line toward the play. Taylor can also shed blockers and make tackles when backs come into his area.
Taylor isn't the type to blow quarterbacks up and separate them from the ball or knock them out of the game, but his long arms allow him to wrap up and finish plays when he has the chance. He has big 10 3/8" hands, which gives him the ability to make effective arm tackles on running backs.
Use of Hands
Taylor is actually very good about using his hands and long arms to keep offensive tackles away from his body and give him room to operate outside as a pass-rusher. He'll club away the arms of a tackle that has latched onto him or throw a smaller blocker aside when he gets a grip of their jersey. He is somewhat violent at times with his hands and overall is very active in this aspect of the game.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
While he does demonstrate some outside pass rush ability and excellent work setting the edge as a run defender, Taylor's strength and length are the foundation of a productive 3-4 defensive end in the mold of Calais Campbell, if he can add 15-25 pounds of muscle.