Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room No.207: RB Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines a play from Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor, a 2020 NFL Draft prospect with an advanced skill for setting up perimeter runs. 

He runs with confidence.

He has an intuitive grasp of the position.

He has an artistic sense of time and space.

Describing a player’s performance with these phrases is fitting for a beat reporter or features writer, but it’s worthless to the analyst and scout unless it’s backed up with supporting information that illustrates how confidence, intuition, and artistry work on the field.  Jonathan Taylor is a confident and intuitive runner with a sense of artistry when it comes to manipulating time and space on outside runs.

This RSP Boiler Room episode shows one of Taylor’s runs to the edge of Iowa’s defense that illustrates Taylor’s skill to continuously assess the position of multiple defenders and manipulate his opponents and his blocks to his advantage. Unlike many runners, Taylor displays an added later of patience to widen the edge block a little further, playing a game within a game, as he approaches the crease.

This was an improvised moment within the play that makes so much sense that it appears planned all along. It has that feel because Taylor has a thorough understanding of space and time when it comes to the inside seals of his line, the edge blocker, the defender’s changing body position as the edge block develops, and even the distance of the near safety from the line of scrimmage.

All of Taylor’s movements are fluid and appear as if they’ve been practiced countless times when, in fact, it’s only the reads and footwork that have been practiced with this frequency–and often in isolated environments.

Although these skills are often practiced in a segmented fashion, Taylor integrates them with confidence, intuition, and artistry.  It’s why he’s among the best running back prospects eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft.

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