Ever since the famous Hook-and-lateral/Statue of Liberty upset by the Boise State Broncos over the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, players from the Idaho university with the unique field turf have been making more and more of an impact in the NFL. Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans are fully aware of a certain Boise State product who set all sorts of records while wearing a red and white number 22 shirt this season. It’s obvious that Boise has become an NFL talent factory, and one of the next in line to carry on the tradition is cornerback Jamar Taylor.
In researching which cornerbacks I wanted to profile in the run up to the draft, I stumbled upon Taylor’s CBS Sports Draft Profile. As most good draft profiles do, there is a comparison to a current NFL player that the prospect would ideally be most like if he reaches his perceived potential. Allow me to share with you the comparison for Mr. Taylor:
COMPARES TO: Ronde Barber, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Needless to say, Taylor has a long ways to go before a comparison to long-time standout Barber is earned, but they share several similarities, not the least of which is good instincts, a burst to close, reliable open-field tackling ability and a strong work ethic.
A quick search of YouTube reveals this clip of Jamar making a play very similar to one you might see Ronde make any given Sunday. Check it out, and I’m sure you’ll see some of the similarity from just that brief moment.
Taylor registered 4 interceptions and 9 passes defended in 2012, and showed solid tackling skills as well. He also added 2.5 sacks, further justifying the Ronde Barber comparison. He’s also a team captain and a hard worker, which are two traits sure to catch Mark Dominik’s attention. He runs the 40 yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 second range, and yet is still strong enough to compete against a wide receiver in a jump ball situation.
Just like Ronde, Jamar is not the biggest cornerback out there, and has little experience playing in press coverage in a 1-on-1 scheme. He’s much more of a zone corner, which puts him in an awkward place if he were to try to transition to Greg Schiano’s defensive scheme. It’s possible that Taylor is fully capable of playing up at the line against a bigger receiver, and he is certainly more than capable of adapting and playing a role in off-man coverage when singled out against a receiver with no safety help.
Jamar Taylor might not be the prototype of what the Buccaneers are looking for in a cover corner, as he appears to be a bit undersized to be a true man-to-man every down cornerback. His offseason workouts and pro days will need to show the Buccaneers that he can be relied upon to lock down a receiver in coverage. But Taylor is smart, hard-working, and versatile, and could prove to be an excellent addition to the defense. And I am sure that it doesn’t hurt to have Doug Martin vouching for him at One Buc Place. If this guy truly is a Ronde Barber clone, I would welcome him with open arms to Tampa Bay. For a third round pick, Taylor would also be a great value, and one that the Bucs might not be able to pass up.