Over the course of the next several weeks, the Seahawks and 31 other teams will be evaluating the latest crop of incoming talent in preparation for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Up next in our prospect profiles series, the Seahawks will enter the 2020 season with some short and long-term questions at running back. If they have interest in potentially using a high draft pick at the position for a second time in three years, supremely talented Wisconsin workhorse back Jonathan Taylor could be high on the team's big board.
Built with an ideal 5-foot-10, 226-pound frame, few running backs in college football history have been as durable and productive as Taylor. In three seasons starring in Madison, he amassed over 6,000 rushing yards, 55 combined touchdowns, and three Big Ten rushing titles.
Exhibiting ideal ball carrier vision, Taylor runs with outstanding patience to let his blockers set up running lanes and doesn't force the issue. Once he finds daylight, he possesses the elite speed necessary to put six points on the scoreboard in an instant both as an outside runner and between the tackles.
While he won't be mistaken for Marshawn Lynch and wouldn't be classified as a pure power back, Taylor's powerful legs function like pistons, allowing him to break through arm tackles and fall forward at contact. He also has plenty of wiggle to make defenders miss in space and rarely loses yardage on his carries.
When tasked with pass protection duties, Taylor proved himself capable at Wisconsin. He knows when to pick his battles and displays good technique chopping down large defensive tackles, ends, and blitzing linebackers.
NFL teams have little patience with backs who consistently put the ball on the turf and Taylor had major ball security problems throughout his college career. He coughed up 15 fumbles in three seasons and his efforts to correct the issue led to tentative play at times.
Though Taylor made improvements as a receiver setting career-highs in receptions, receiving yardage, and touchdowns last season, he's had persistent issues with drops and didn't get many opportunities to make an impact in the passing game. He has much left to prove for consideration as a third down back.
Toting the rock more than 300 times in each of his three seasons starring for the Badgers, Taylor has quite a bit of tread on his tires entering the league. Questions about his longevity and long-term durability may scare away some teams.
Where He Fits in Seattle
At full strength, the Seahawks should have one of the better running back trios in football with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer, which may leave some to wonder why drafting a running back early would be an option.
But with Carson heading into the final year of his contract and Penny's status uncertain recovering from a torn ACL, Seattle has been taking a close look at several backs. Among the several high-profile talents who met with the team at the scouting combine, Taylor had a formal visit, indicating apparent interest.
If the Seahawks want Taylor, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll will likely have to grab him with their first pick. There's a possibility he will still be available after trading down, but he should be off the board well before the team is back on the clock with two selections late in the second round.
While it may seem unlikely Seattle will select a back in the first round for a second time in three years, he's widely viewed as the best back in his class. Given the Seahawks propensity for running the football at high volumes and the current depth chart, it shouldn't be a shocker if Schneider and Carroll can't resist picking him.