The Jaguars selected Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor with the 35th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. From the day he stepped on the practice field for the Jaguars, his athleticism and size were evident.
Despite being heavily penalized, Taylor had a promising rookie year. He started in every game for the Jaguars in 2019, and while he was far from perfect, his athleticism and overall skill as a pass protector was easy to see.
Expectations were sky-high for year two. But a worldwide pandemic didn't allow Taylor to get the reps he needed throughout the summer, and his play suffered. Looking at his 2020 campaign from a holistic view, it can only be looked at as a disappointment. He led the NFL in QB pressures allowed with 58. And while many of his offensive line mates in Jacksonville enjoyed great success under second-year offensive line coach George Warhop, inconsistency as a pass protector and run blocker plagued Jawaan.
Taylor, like the Jaguars' offense, started 2020 off with a bang. He played an excellent game at home against the Colts and performed well the following week in Tennessee. As was the case for many of the players on the Jaguars' offense, a week three matchup with the Dolphins on Thursday night was the beginning of a very rough stretch. Taylor surrendered six pressures and two sacks that night. Over the next eight games, he would allow 39 total pressures and five sacks. Taylor struggled with handling power and inside moves.
But Taylor found a way to pick himself up off the mat. Starting in week 12, Taylor began to play with more consistency from play to play, especially in the pass blocking department. Over the final six games of the season, Taylor gave up just 2.5 pressures per game. Had he kept that pace for the entire season, Taylor would be looked at in a different light heading into year three. Allowing 2.5 pressures per game over the course of a season is far from elite or even good production from an offensive tackle. Still, that stretch represented a tangible improvement.
Breaking down the film on Taylor this year, he has the athleticism, quick feet, and size you look for in a left tackle. If one thing is clear about Taylor, it's that he's willing to put in the work. And Taylor will absolutely need to put in a ton of work this offseason to develop more consistent hand placement and vision in the pass protection department. As a run blocker, Robinson moves well, but his spatial awareness and angles need some work. It might just be a matter of getting more reps in those types of situations. And I'd like to see Taylor finish his blocks through the whistle.
To answer the question posed in this article's title, no, Taylor's not a foundational player at this point in his career. However, he is still young and has all the physical tools you could look for in a starting right tackle. If he and O-line coach George Warhop can develop more consistency with hand placement, awareness, and finish, Taylor could develop into a quality starter, if not more.
The Jaguars should do their best to avoid the same fate so many playoff teams did down the stretch, not being able to protect their star QBs. Taylor should get every shot to start in 2021, but drafting an offensive tackle if the right blend of value and talent presents itself, should be part of the Jaguars' plan heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Even if Taylor takes the next step this year, you're always one injury away from a backup needing to fill in. Jacksonville would do well to make sure that backup is a physically gifted player that could fill in for Taylor if he continues to struggle or suffers an injury.
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