We've seen star running backs from the Big Ten like Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott get chosen in the top five of recent NFL Drafts. However, Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor isn't a lock to be a first round pick tonight.
Taylor rushed for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons, starring for the Badgers from the time he stepped foot on campus. However, his draft stock isn't necessarily commensurate with those numbers.
While Taylor is still projected as a late first-round pick at best and early second-rounder at worst, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks thinks he is being undervalued. Brooks made his case for Taylor on last night's episode of NFL Path to the Draft.
Heading into tonight, Brooks says Taylor "deserves more love."
“It’s hard to call someone with two 2,000-yard seasons a sleeper but Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin hasn’t gotten enough love during this pre-draft process,” Brooks said, via Saturday Tradition. “You’re talking about someone who’s 220 pounds, runs a 4.39, has the production that I previously stated, has done it in a big way on a big stage. The Wisconsin running back deserves more love. He is someone that is going to get more attention on draft day.”
There are a number of conceivable reasons for Taylor being slept on by NFL evaluators. For one, the running back position is being devalued by many teams throughout the league.
Secondly, while Taylor is incredible running the ball, he's a bit unproven as a pass-catcher, compiling just 42 receptions during his career at Wisconsin. A running back in the NFL today needs to be able to be a receiving threat and a quality pass blocker.
On paper, it seems like the most obvious fits for Taylor are at the back of the first round. The Seattle Seahawks could definitely use a bellcow, and are one of the franchises most committed to running the football in the NFL.
Also, the New Orleans Saints may be eyeing Taylor to take over the role Mark Ingram had before leaving after the 2018 season. The Wisconsin star could be the 'thunder' to Alvin Kamara's 'lightning' in the New Orleans backfield.