We are going to take an in-depth look of two Senior Bowl darlings in this edition of Showdown Spotlight. Zay Jones was a stand out from East Carolina University and Taywan Taylor was a record breaker for Western Kentucky University. Size wise they are almost identical and both were great statistical performers through out their careers.
Both of these great WR had back-to-back seasons over 1100 yards receiving.
They are currently both lighting it up at the Senior Bowl. Coming out of smaller schools the expectation was a bit dull for both of them vs quality competition. They have shut up all the critics and continued to be the best and most productive players there. Even with their abilities and production level in college they will most likely be 2nd-4th round picks. While this WR class is top heavy the depth seems to be more based on need for a style or scheme fit than actual talent. There is a mix of possession and speed guys, but not a ton of elite depth.
Lets now check out how they stack up against each other:
Zay Jones Taywan Taylor
Height: 6 feet 1 inches Height: 6 feet 1 inches
Weight: 197 lbs Weight: 195 lbs
Est. 40-yard-dash: 4.53 Est. 40-yard-dash: 4.39
Rec Tds: 23 Rec TDs: 41
Rec : 399 Rec: 253
Yards: 4279 Yards: 4234
Yards per rec avg: 10.7 Yards per rec avg: 16.7
KR/PR Yards: 598 yards all KR KR/PR Yards: 81 yards in 6 games just one season
Best game: 2016- Loss 12 rec 212 yards 2 TD 17.7 avg Best game: 2016- Win 7 rec 194 yards 2 TD 27.7 avg
Games played: 49 Games played: 50
The head-to-head part was very close as far as height and weight they are almost identical and same with yards. Zay Jones won just 4 compared to Taylor winning 6. The best game was close, but 27.7 average per catch is just eye popping and had 2 TD on top of it. It is worth mentioning though that Jones best game was against Navy this year, who is always a good defensive team.
Zay has been killing it this week at the Senior Bowl making great catches and burning every defender who tried to stop him. His height and weight are good for the next level and should come in a bit heavier for the combine. Jones is more quick than he is fast, he can get off the line and up the field quick, but does not have that second gear. He is a big bodied WR and has a wide catch radius. Zay also has a pretty good route tree, struggles sometimes to come out of his break sharp and not round it off. He is also one of the better blocking WR I have seen so far in this class.
Jones was one of the more electric players his entire time in college, with just shy of 400 catches his hands are very well documented.
Once he gets the ball in his hands he turns into a RB similar to Anquan Boldin. He has good pad height and has some stop and miss stuff, but is not afraid of contact and will bull-doze his way through someone if he thinks it is more effective. On several of the tapes I watched he caught everything with his hands and away from his body. Zay never jumps for a ball he could have stayed on the ground for, which is a huge thing for me. He trusts his hands more than most of the WR in this years class.
While he did not catch a ton of jump balls or contested balls in college, he has shown this week in the Senior Bowl he is more than capable of boxing out and fighting for position to out jump the corner and catch it.
He should be able to play anywhere on the field his coaches ask him to at the next level. In college he played all three WR slots and even was in on some jet sweeps. While I think his best position is as a #2 WR he can be effective in the slot. He doesn’t have true burning speed with the next gear, so he will need to keep those amazing hands, and become more effective at making guys miss at the next level. I think he will still have a great career in the NFL, but there are a few things he can work on and making sure he doesn’t round off routes is one of them. His run blocking ability will get him some major points with some teams and help out his stock if he indeed does run around a 4.55.
Lets start off Taywan Taylor with saying that if WKU beat Alabama it would have been because he put the team on his back. They had no answer for him as he burned them for 9 catches and 121 yards. While he did have some mistakes in that game and had some stumbling issues he still showed what he can do against elite talent when he is on.
Compared to Zay, Taywan is much more of a speed guy getting yac over just a ton of catches. If you love Mike Wallace type players Taywan Taylor is your guy.
When you watch Taylor he might be the best true WR with stop and miss stuff or great juke moves. His ability to change direction or stop on a dime is amazing. Similar to Jones his route tree is good but likes to round off some routes and does not always run in a straight line. He trusts his ability after the catch so much that sometimes he does not run a very clean route.
Taylor will run a blazing fast 40-yard time at the combine and should be one of the fastest WR in this draft. He will be able to play in any system and should start at slot easy his rookie year and will be a match up nightmare. Its not extremely common to see a WR who is almost 6`2 and 200lbs run a 4.33-4.39 which were some of his times at his school. His speed will get him a ton of yards after the catch and his size will make him instantly one of the biggest threats on what ever team he is on and make him the top deep threat in this class.
He still needs to clean up a few things and make sure he can hold onto the ball during and after the catch, and several times he gets to far over his feet and stumbles or falls down off the line or after the catch when he is trying to out run someone. If he can stay on his toes and keep his pad level clean and not fall forward he should be one of the best WR in this class in a few years. Its hard to be great if you cant stay up right or you keep falling forward, another reason that is dangerous its hard to secure the ball clean when you are off balance, and an easy swipe from a defender when you are off balance can knock that ball lose. This could be some of the reason why he had 5 fumbles in college. All of his issues are easily fixable and with his size speed combo when he does clean up his routes he will be a lock to end up a #1 WR at some point down the line. There is a lot of love about Taywan Taylor when you look to the future, but based on where he is right now he is best suited in the slot and the mid-rounds.
Both of these WR have some issues while the biggest one is one of the more common ones being not having clean route running ability. But, with their size, Zay`s hands and Taylor`s speed it doesn’t really bring down their ability to much. Taylor’s elite speed his his best quality and how well he moves after the catch knowing how to use his speed, slowing down or speeding up to make sure he gets the most out of each catch. Jones catch ability is just fantastic he consistently catches away from his body always keeps his eye on the ball and after the catch he does quite well. Both of these WR should do well at the next level. While I think Taylor can end up all the way to #1 WR I think Jones might be best suited for a #2 role if he can not improve his speed and is mostly best suited for a west coast offense. However, if Taylor continues to fumble at the next level or his balance causes some drops or balls to be knocked out of his hands his career might be short regardless of speed.
Comp- Anquan Boldin
Current Draft Projection- 91s to Kansas City ChiefsHighest/Lowest Draft slots- 36th to Chicago and 106th to Philadelphia
Best Fits- Chiefs, Bears, Eagles, Lions, and Rams
Comp- Mike Wallace
Current Draft Projection- 47th Baltimore Ravens
Highest/Lowest Draft slots- 34th to San Fransisco and 92nd to Dallas
Best Fits- Ravens, Cowboys, 49ers, Bills and Titans