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Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor well-suited for Matt LaFleur's Packers offense

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin.

 Latest in a Packers Prospects series looking at players Green Bay could select in the April 23-25 NFL draft.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have not picked a running back in the first round since taking Darrell Thompson No. 19 overall in 1990. They haven’t taken a running back in the third round or higher since taking Eddie Lacy in the second round (No. 61) in 2013. They have an entrenched dual-threat starter in Aaron Jones. But Jones and backup Jamaal Williams are entering their contract years, and if former Wisconsin star Jonathan Taylor is available he might be too enticing to pass on.

Taylor would come in having to work his way up the depth chart, but he potentially could use the practice time to work on route running, pass protection and catching the ball. But it’s undeniable that he can run the ball and run it often — which may suit the direction the Packers' offense may take as Aaron Rodgers ages and Matt LaFleur implements more run options.

Age next season: 21.

Combine vitals: 4.39-second 40-yard dash, 4.24-second 20-yard shuttle, 36-inch vertical jump.

Stats: 42 career catches, 90.1 rushing grade, 83.4 zone grade.

Pro Football Focus analysis: Taylor totaled 6,159 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns across his 925 career attempts at Wisconsin and averaged 4.24 yards after contact per attempt along the way. He also forced over 60 missed tackles in each of his three seasons with the Badgers, including his 2019 campaign where he forced 87 missed tackles across 320 attempts. Ball security is a bit of a concern for Taylor, as he fumbled the football 17 times in his three-year collegiate career. He logged just 42 receptions for 398 yards and five touchdowns as a pass-catcher for Wisconsin. He also dropped eight of his 65 total targets. In pass protection, Taylor allowed five total pressures from 60 pass-blocking snaps.

Draftniks say: “Supremely productive, well-built runner with an all-day, every-day mentality that helped lead him to three Big Ten rushing titles. Taylor runs with bend and burst as an outside runner and has home-run speed once he gets into the open field. He displays an ability to weave around interior traffic but might have evolved into more of a thinker than reactor inside due to fumbling issues and the litany of loaded fronts he faced. His patience and understanding of the where/when of blocks allowed him to thrive in multiple run schemes. He's more body puncher than knockout artist, wearing down his opponents with carry after carry. His traits, toughness and talent should make him an early starter with a solid ceiling and more third-down potential than we saw at Wisconsin.” – NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein

Quotable: “(Wisconsin strength and conditioning coaches) did a great job of giving you the knowledge of what you need to do to prepare your body as well as putting you in position to prepare your body for the workload of the season. So, I really think that’s kudos for giving guys the knowledge for recovery. Things you need to do before a game, after a game, in the offseason to prepare you for that workload.” – Taylor on the concern over his workload at Wisconsin