by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of 247Sports.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Miami, FL, Defensive Line, Leonard Taylor III
Name- Leonard Taylor III
Pos- Defensive Line
Team- Miami, FL
HT/WT- 6’3” 305 lbs.
Home – Miami, FL
Taylor attended Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest, Florida. 247Sports rated him as a 5-star recruit and the #3 overall prospect in the country after he accumulated 51 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 6 passes defended and an interception during his senior season. He was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. During this senior season, he committed to Miami, FL over offers from just about every other Division 1 school.
As a true freshman in 2021, Taylor played in the final 9 games of the season. He was a disruptive force in this brief time, collecting 21 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
Last season, Taylor saw action in all 12 games and made 9 starts at defensive tackle for the Hurricanes. He was named an All-ACC Honorable Mention after compiling 24 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 1 interception.
So far this season, Taylor’s play goes beyond the box score. He has 6 tackles and a sack for the 4-2 Hurricanes.
Taylor has elite burst and quickness off the snap and routinely penetrates to create chaos in the backfield. He has a stout lower base and is hard to move from his position. He acts like an anchor who takes up space and makes it difficult for teams to open up holes. He has better agility than most linemen and he rarely goes to the ground during the game.
Taylor is a dependable tackler who does an efficient job of wrapping up and stopping the ball carrier. He takes on numerous double teams and does a phenomenal job of anchoring down and not being moved. He will help improve any linebacker crop in the NFL.
Taylor has some downsides, however, which includes playing too upright and stiff during pass rush situations. When he does this, he loses his lower body strength to drive though the blockers. He has moments when he gets off the ball with his head down and loses sight of where the football is. He tends to play too much north and south in running situations and needs to improve his combat skills and hand placement. He relies too much on beating the interior linemen off the ball with his burst.
Draft 412 saw an instant comparison between Leonard Taylor and former first round pick Devonte Wyatt. Wyatt played at Georgia and used his burst off the snap to beat linemen, continually making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Taylor has a chance to be a late first round pick like Wyatt.
Lower body strength
Upright at times
Finding the ball
Leonard Taylor III checks all the boxes of what NFL teams want in a 4-3 defensive lineman and should hear his name called late on day one or very early on day two. His initial burst off the snap will be a handful for NFL interior linemen and as he continues growing as a football player and getting better, he has a chance to become a force.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 1st or 2nd round