One of my favorite parts of the NFL Draft is finding a player who will be drafted in the third round or later and turn out to be a star. Last year it was running back Alfred Morris, drafted in the 6th round by the Washington Redskins. Morris finished the 2012 season second in the NFL with 1,613 rushing yards and second in the league with 13 rushing touchdowns. I am not saying that this player will be a star in 2013 but I believe he will be a Pro Bowler in years to come. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor reminds me a lot of 49ers running back Frank Gore. Taylor and Gore are both 5’9” and weight almost exactly the same at around 215 pounds. Also Taylor’s running style compares a lot to the 4-time Pro Bowler Gore.
Stepfan appeared in every game in his freshman year but only ran for 303 yards because he was backing up Toby Gerhart, who would go on to finish second in the Heisman voting. Throughout his next three years at Stanford, Taylor became one of the most consistent running backs in college football and durable, never missing a game in his four years with the Cardinal. Taylor rushed for 1,137 yards his sophomore season, 1,330 his junior year, and finished 10th in the nation last year with 1,530 yards. In his three BCS bowl appearances, Taylor ran for 379 yards and three touchdowns. His 4,300 career rushing yards set the all-time career record at Stanford and his 45 career touchdowns are also a school record. He also had 21 games with over 100 rushing yards, a school record.
I have seen Taylor being taken in mock drafts anywhere from the third round to the sixth. If he is taken anywhere between the third and the sixth, it will be a steal for the team that gets him. Taylor is not going to flash you with his running style but he finds ways to get open holes. Whether he waits for an open hole or runs over opposing defenders, Taylor has the tools to have a long illustrious career in the NFL. He is not afraid of contact and one of his weaknesses is that he cuts off blockers in order to hit an opposing defender. He also excels in the screen game and is a good pass blocker. Taylor also does what any running back should do and that is fight for the extra yard.
Gore was taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft and became the 49ers starting running back in his second season. Another interesting note is that Gore and Taylor ran the same 40-yard dash time, 4.59 in their pro days. A couple of teams that I can see Taylor fitting with are the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and the New York Giants.
Stepfan Taylor along with 253 other players will be getting drafted this weekend. Although he will most likely not be a starter in his rookie year, he will become one of the NFL’s most reliable running backs in the years to come.
image was used from stanforddaily.com