Martin Mayhew and the Detroit Lions have placed another draft wager, putting potential and projection over evidence and production. The latest betting slip has defensive end Devin Taylor's name on it via the fourth round.
Taylor is an incredibly long and athletic end who has every physical trait that you could want in a defensive pass-rusher. However, he only accumulated three sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss in 2012.
So is he already a bust? Of course not, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Read on to find out how Detroit will use Taylor next season and beyond.
Out of every system used in the league, the Wide 9 is the best fit for Taylor. Detroit represented the best chance for this kid to realize his potential.
In the Lions scheme, Taylor will be lined up outside of the offensive tackle and be asked to charge up the field. His first step in college usually led to him standing up. Perhaps if his responsibilities are pared down and he can just focus on using his speed to run around the end, he'll stay lower.
Additionally, he isn't going to be asked to do much right away. Jason Jones and Ezekiel Ansah will be the starters; Willie Young will be the "sixth man," or the first guy off the bench. Taylor will round out the rotation and probably (hopefully) won't get more than 150 snaps, which is still too high of a number.
Taylor will be the opposite of a situational pass-rusher until he develops better hand technique and pass-rushing moves. More than likely, he'll be used to spell the better ends on first or second down, where a guy with 8.5 tackles for a loss last season can feel more comfortable.
One last intriguing thought on Taylor's role. His long, lanky frame can sustain more weight without slowing him down much. It's possible he could eat himself into a pass-rushing defensive tackle at some point, and that would be considered a good thing.
Do not expect much from Taylor during his rookie year. His college production dropped off each year since his sophomore season, and he has been playing across from first-round talent for years, meaning he mostly saw one-on-one blocking.
As mentioned above, Taylor is going to be fourth on the depth chart at defensive end. His opportunities to make plays will be limited, meaning if he notched a single sack in his freshmen campaign, the season would be a success.
As for the long-term picture, he will probably always been counted on to provide depth, but little else.