The defending Super Bowl champions are moving on from left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and have pegged former Jacksonville Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor as their answer on the blind side.
Taylor will move from right to left tackle — just as Brown did before him — so his level of play may significantly alter. He’s played only 154 snaps at left tackle between college (136 snaps) and the NFL (18).
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Taylor is ever-improving as a pass protector, which is the most important aspect of offensive tackle play. Keeping Patrick Mahomes upright and healthy is paramount for the Chiefs, and Taylor is coming off a career year in pass protection in which he earned a career-high 75.9 pass-blocking grade and gave up a career low in sacks (5), hits (1) and hurries (15).
He allowed pressure on 2.9% of his pass-blocking snaps, fifth among the 70 offensive tackles who played at least 250 pass-blocking snaps on the year.
|Season||Pass-block grade||Pass-block snaps||Sacks allowed||Hits allowed||Hurries allowed||Pressure rate|
While five sacks seems like a lot and far too many for any fan to be happy with, not everyone can be Joe Thomas. And his numbers actually compare favorably to Orlando Brown Jr.'s, as the now-former Chief allowed four sacks, 10 hits and 44 hurries for a 6.9% pressure rate last season.
Taylor does need to improve as a run-blocker, as he produced a disappointing 39.7 run-blocking grade in 2022.
Last year, outside zone (30.5%) and inside zone (21.9%) concepts accounted for more than half of the Chiefs' running plays. The Jaguars ran mostly inside zone (29.2%), with outside zone (13.1%) and pull lead (12.3%) being the next most frequently called concepts.
Taylor: Run-blocking grade on run concepts over his career
The Chiefs are unlikely to undergo a massive change in scheme for 2023, so Taylor will need to get back to where he was as a run-blocker early in his career when he earned run-blocking grades of 58.1 in 2019 and 61.4 in 2020.
Given that Taylor will now play under Andy Heck, one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL, it’s not unreasonable to expect a player with Taylor’s abilities and talent to take a fifth-year leap.
The Chiefs may have overpaid for an offensive tackle who hasn’t had the grades to back up his big contract, but his improvement over his predecessor in pass protection was worth the risk.
Plus, they get younger and more athletic at the position, meaning that Taylor has the ability to stay on blocks longer to give QB Patrick Mahomes that extra half-second he might need to make the kind of play that only he can.