With the NFL draft closing in, ESPNBoston.com is narrowing its list of prospects that it projects as the best fits for the Patriots at areas that seem likely the club could target:
Player: Jamar Taylor
School: Boise State
Listed height/weight: 5-foot-10, 192 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: 4th (scouting report)
Draft projection: Second round
Why he’s on our list: The Patriots’ history of drafting cornerbacks reflects how Bill Belichick values the position. The club looks to be in good shape for 2013, but when considering that Aqib Talib is on a one-year deal, there is an element of planning for the future as well. Taylor was a team captain and appears to have some of the desired intangibles the Patriots might seek.
Recommended link: Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman writes on Taylor’s work ethic paving his path to the NFL.
Key stat: A team captain, he led Boise State in pass breakups and interceptions in 2012.
Workout stat: Had 22 reps on the bench press at the combine, tied for tops among cornerbacks.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Taylor impressed with a strong showing the week of the Senior Bowl and he built on that momentum with a strong workout at the Combine where his 4.39 40 tied for fourth fastest time for corners this year. He’s versatile in that he has the instincts and closing burst to play zone in addition to the quick feet, fluidity and balance to match up in man. He’s not a ball hawk at this point but he has above average hands and he fields the ball well for the most part. The biggest concern is his ability to match up with bigger receivers. At 5105 and 192 pounds bigger receivers will have some success pushing him around and boxing him out underneath. There are also concerns about his ability to compete for 50-50 balls downfield and in the red zone. Although he has a 35-inch vertical and he is aggressive, he has shorter arms (30.6) so his timing has to be near perfect when he elevates and even then he will be overmatched against elites like Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Two other knocks on Taylor: He didn’t face elite competition at Boise State and he’s had some problems staying healthy.”