Name: Trent Taylor
School: Louisiana Tech
Position fit: Slot receiver
Stats to know: Averaged 3.28 yards per route run out of the slot, ranked second in the nation among all slot receivers.
What he does best:
- Possibly the best hands of the entire class. Rarely drops ball or has it in a position for a defender to make a late play on it. Will hold onto ball even through big hit.
- Prototypical undersized slot receiver with no fear going over the middle. Will lower his shoulder into defenders much bigger than him.
- Smart player, will adjust routes depending on coverage. Finds holes in zones.
- Quicker than fast. Doesn’t have elite top end speed but is so quick at changing direction and getting up to speed that it makes up for it (evidenced by great 20- and 60-yard shuttle times at NFL combine).
- Good route-runner, doesn’t just go underneath like some slot receivers but will attack intermediate area too.
- Solid after-the-catch receiver. Turns upfield as soon as he catches ball and looks to get as many yards as he can.
- Very undersized. While not necessarily a weakness, there’s a difference between getting hit over the middle by an NFL linebacker vs a C-USA linebacker. Could lead to durability issues.
- Route breaks aren’t always as sharp as they could be. Faster NFL defensive backs would be able to keep up so will need to tighten his breaks.
- Small catch radius. While hands are phenomenal, will need quarterbacks to be fairly accurate when throwing to him to allow him to catch the football.
- Level of competition, much like his teammate Carlos Henderson but in a different way. With Louisiana Tech’s spread offense, Taylor did not see many complicated defenses like he’ll see in the NFL. Easier to find holes in zones, beat his coverage man.
- Does not offer as much as a punt returner, 10.2 yards per return this year was his career high and has never returned one for a touchdown.
Player comparison: Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys
Beasley is a better athlete (faster straightaway speed and better jumper) but their playing styles are remarkably similar. Both are the same size, and both play with a chip on their shoulder from being told they were too small. Beasley is very quick on his routes and knows how to read defenses, and then has very soft hands when the ball is thrown to him. Beasley is proof that a player of smaller stature can find success in the NFL.
Bottom line: While Taylor isn’t getting as much hype as his teammate (Henderson), he’s still an effective receiver who should find a place in the NFL. He’ll never be anything more than a slot receiver, but that’s a very important position in today’s NFL. Taylor is extremely quick with strong hands, and knows how to read a defense and find openings. He’s a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder that will motivate him against bigger NFL athletes. He should be able to contribute as a slot receiver fairly quickly.