Scouts Inc.: The pros and cons of Jason Taylor

March, 31, 2009
3/31/09
11:54
AM ET

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

 
  Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE
  Will Jason Taylor's declining skill set be a fit for the Patriots or the Dolphins?
Jason Taylor's situation is interesting. On one side, he is a versatile proven player who should still be able to contribute in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, mostly as a pass-rusher in a limited amount of snaps. He knows how to set up a pass-blocker by varying his speeds and utilizing quite a few pass-rush maneuvers and can also cover the flats if asked as a short zone coverage player. Against the run, he uses his hands well to keep bigger blockers off his numbers and has a good feel for identifying and sensing specific run plays.

On the other hand, he is approaching 35, and his passion for the game at this point has been in question. He's a player whose once outstanding skill set is in decline, particularly if forced to play a high number of snaps game after game. Taylor is a complementary edge player now.

So, where does he best fit at this stage of his career? Taylor has been linked to the New England Patriots and has publicly expressed interest in returning to the Miami Dolphins, but would signing him to a short-term deal be a prudent move for either club? Taylor should immediately bolster either pass rush from an outside linebacker position, but from an age perspective, he isn't exactly what either team is looking for opposite Joey Porter or Adalius Thomas, two over-30 outside linebackers.

However, the Dolphins did sign Cameron Wake from the Canadian Football League, and while Wake was a pass-rushing demon up north, surely there will be a learning curve while he adjusts to the game at this level. Taylor could bridge that gap. In a similar situation, New England has a wealth of early draft picks and probably would select a pass-rushing outside linebacker even if they were to sign Taylor. That incoming rookie along with a few promising youngsters presently on their roster -- such as Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable -- will need some time to develop before becoming productive at this level. Both teams, but especially New England, should be in a win-now frame of mind, and Taylor could help make that happen in a limited rotational role.

That being said, the big question is how Taylor would fit with the way Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells do things. Taylor doesn't exactly exude that tough-guy, Porter/Lawrence Taylor/Mike Vrabel-like mentality that has become synonymous with these two future Hall of Fame decision-makers. Belichick and Parcells are two men who know exactly what they want in a player's mental makeup, and it's not clear that Taylor fits at this post-"Dancing With the Stars" stage of his career. Still, both men are also all about improving their football team, and Taylor could do that as well, without costing the team a draft pick or an inordinate amount of salary-cap space.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

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