Many will argue that Taylor is destined for the Hall of Fame, while others will argue against it. To me the answer is obvious: Fred Taylor is a Hall of Fame running back.
Taylor was banged up by injuries for most of his career, but he still ranks in at No. 15 on the All-Time rushing list. Taylor also spent most of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, in one the smallest markets in the league, and the lack of national exposure made him a relative unknown to those outside of Florida.
Taylor's Career in Jacksonville
The former University of Florida star was drafted ninth overall in the 1998 NFL draft by Jacksonville, and he got off to an extremely fast start to his career.
Taylor started 12 of 15 games in 1998 for the Jaguars as a rookie, rushing for 1,223 and 14 touchdowns, a career high, while also catching 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns.
This was just the beginning for the Jaguars back, and his best years were still to come.
Taylor rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season seven times in his 12-year career, all while only playing two full 16-game seasons.
Taylor's best year came in 2003. Taylor started all 16 games for the Jaguars and set a career high with 1,572 yards rushing on 345 carries for six touchdowns. Taylor was still snubbed from the Pro Bowl that season because the league had inflated numbers from its running backs.
That year, Jamal Lewis had his 2,000-yard season, Priest Holmes scored 27 rushing touchdowns, and Clinton Portis's 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns were no slouch either.
Taylor only went to Pro Bowl once in his career, and that was as an injury replacement in 2007. At the time of his first Pro Bowl, Taylor was 19th on the all-time rushing list. At that time, he was the only player in list of top 50 running backs that had never been to a Pro Bowl, which was truly unbelievable.
The 2007 season would be the last great season of his illustrious career.
How does Taylor Stack Up against Running Backs in the Hall of Fame?
Taylor ranks above a number of star-studded names that either are already in or eventually will make their way into the Hall of Fame.
He ranks above Hall of Famers John Riggins, OJ Simpson, and Larry Csonka. He is only 534 yards behind Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas and 580 behind Hall of Famer Franco Harris.
Is Fred Taylor a Hall of Fame player?
Taylor is also ranked above players such as Eddie George, Corey Dillon, and Ricky Watters, all of whom are potential Hall of Fame candidates.
If Taylor Does Get In, When Will It Be?
There is no question that the lack of awards, Pro Bowl nods, and Super Bowl rings will affect Taylor in the end, but it shouldn't stop him from entering.
Taylor will not get in on his first ballot, but the third or fourth try seems more realistic.
At the end of the day, Fred Taylor put in the workload and performed at the highest level for a number of seasons. Taylor's exclusion from the Hall of Fame would be one of the worst snubs in NFL history, and I won't let it go unnoticed.