PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Leonard Taylor III #56 of the Miami Hurricanes looks on against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 23, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Temple Owls 41-7. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Leonard Taylor III #56 of the Miami Hurricanes looks on against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 23, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Temple Owls 41-7. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Leonard Taylor III Produced Inconsistent Game Film

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MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 21: Leonard Taylor III #56 of the Miami Hurricanes in action against the Clemson Tigers during the second half of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

I had high hopes for Miami defensive tackle Leonard Taylor III after evaluating his 2022 game film.

He was one of those first-round ‘borderline’ guys.

However, his 2023 game film wasn’t what it needed to be to move up. There was a chance in the two games against Clemson and Texas A&M, but the North Carolina and Virginia games brought me back to earth on Taylor. It was painful for me because I like him, but at the same time, I can’t deny what he’s showing me on the game film.

Inconsistency

This is the worst word in the proverbial ‘NFL Dictionary.’ It’s like off-setting penalties. It does nothing but foster an environment of mediocrity. Sometimes great. Sometimes not. If that could be summarized for a team it would look like 9-8 or 8-9.

As much as I wanted to get into his game film, I wasn’t feeling it often enough. Over the past three drafts, I’ve seen the transition from college to the NFL at defensive tackle to be hard enough as it is.

Pass rush word picture

Taylor can look the part of a street fighter that needs the attention of double teams. I mean he plays sometimes like a heavy-weight boxer.

Then occasionally he lacked pop at the point of attack against blockers and was nothing to write home about.

When he’s on ⎯yeah.

When he’s off ⎯nah.

There’s no question the raw ability is in there. That’s the intrigue. The scary part is the rest of the time. To his defense, like I said he did draw many double teams, which freed up other defenders, but some raw limitations are not as easy to correct as ‘trying harder.’

Taylor has some stiffness and lacks bend, which is noticeable when he’s attempting to change direction. He also has one gear speed and close.

Run defense

Taylor did play the run hard, but again, he was inconsistent. This Hurricanes’ defender attacked the run like it was personal, but he had a hard time beating blocks regularly. He was more of a ‘gap-shooter,’ who often ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

He did manage to log 19 tackles (7 solo) in 10 games this past season. These are not ‘world beater,’ numbers, but it’s decent. There were just a lot of ‘neutral’ and ‘negative’ remarks in my notes.

However, when Taylor connects, it’s devastating.

Concerns

Taylor missed the last two games of Miami’s season due to injury and there was a drop in his pass-rushing production, which are two things I do not like to see in a prospect’s ‘trajectory,’ headed into the draft.

Per Pro Football Focus, his sack production dropped from 4.0 sacks (2022) to 1.0 sack (2023). His quarterback hits dropped in half from six to three playing in two fewer games this past season. We have to consider the decreased number of games, but at the same time, he wasn’t closing the deal or threatening to at the same rate of frequency in 2023.

His number of quarterback hurries stayed about the same.

  • 2022: 15
  • 2023: 17

His weight stayed about the same too. According to his school’s website in 2022, Taylor checked in at 305, and at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, he weighed in at 303.

#56 Leonard Taylor III 6-foot-3, 303 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s 2024 NFL Draft Grade: Third-Round (I would select him)

Projected by 27.0% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of March 29, 2024 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

Defensive Wrecking Ball: Leonard Taylor III (6 games evaluated)

2023 game film reviewed: Clemson, Texas A&M, North Carolina, and Virginia (click to view games watched to form this evaluation)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

An athletic defender who can become complacent. Violent nature. Inconsistent energy level. He has long arms and raw explosive upper body strength. Sometimes demonstrates the ability to lock out at the point of attack when pass-rushing and create separation. Flashes suddenness and aggressiveness. A real handful at times. Shows swim move. Difficulty getting going when stunting laterally. Better working straight upfield. Looks far more fluid. Good close once it’s lined up. Becomes disruptive at times. Limited area mixed results run defender.

Final words

Taylor has backup rotational upside.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock, contributes at Yardbarker, and has written for Sports Illustrated Lions, Jets, and 49ers, as well as a featured guest on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. Follow on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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