The Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking to upgrade their roster all over the place, but one area they can look to upgrade in the mid-to-late rounds is in the defensive backfield. A very intriguing safety prospect is Richmond safety Cooper Taylor, who originally was a player and starter as a freshman and sophomore at Georgia Tech before transferring to Richmond.
|Class||Senior||40-time||4.45 - 4.53|
|NFL Comparison||Kam Chancellor||Projection||Mid-late rounds|
Taylor was originally a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, playing as a freshman and earning second team All-ACC honors. Taylor started the first three games of his sophomore season, but was forced to leave a game against Miami early because he was experiencing an extremely high heartbeat and was later diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, forcing him to sit the rest of the season. Taylor was given a medical redshirt and had corrective surgery for the syndrome and was cleared medically to continue playing football.
During the 2010 season Taylor suffered an injury and played sparingly the rest of the season before transferring to Richmond.
Taylor finished his final season at Richmond with 78 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and four interceptions and was one of their defensive standouts, earning him a trip to the East-West Shrine Game, which is where I first took notice of him. The first thing that jumps out at you about Taylor is his size. He is massive for a safety, looking like a linebacker playing the position. He looks like a linebacker in appearance only however, as Taylor seemed to be very fluid in his backpedal and changing direction from the safety position. He picked up running backs and tight ends in coverage with relative ease and was generally in position to make a play on the football.
Taylor is an aggressive safety who isn't afraid to land the big hit while also making sure to wrap up the ball carrier. He makes quick decisions in coverage, picking up the back or tight end and closing in on them with surprising speed for his size. Taylor took to coaching well at the Shrine Game, often applying what the coaches were teaching him almost immediately. He seemed to be a smart player, rarely making any mental mistakes in coverage from what I could tell.
Taylor lacks top-end speed you'd like to see from a safety, but if Gus Bradley is employing the same style of defense that he used in Seattle, someone like Taylor would absolutely fit that box-safety role that Kam Chancellor fills. Cooper can play the intermediate zone and support in the run, while playing downhill against the pass using his length to defend the ball.
There are a couple medical concerns with Taylor, as he's been injured a couple of times (broken hand, etc.) and will need to have the Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome checked out extensively by NFL clubs, but if he tests well in speed and agility drills could see himself drafted in the mid-rounds.
This is the best video I could find of Cooper Taylor in action: