COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 09: Demetrius Taylor #48 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers reacts after a defensive play in the second quarter during their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Appalachian St. defensive end Demetrius Taylor is a prototype scheme fit for Robert Saleh’s New York Jets defense and is loaded with upside.

Appalachian State defensive end Demetrius Taylor is a very unheralded prospect, but he deserves a little more recognition due to his upside. His fit for the New York Jets is based more on a projection of who I think he can be, rather than who he is right now.

Only a one-year starter, the 6-foot-1, 295-pound Taylor doesn’t look like the prototypical 4-3 base end. He has a squatty build like an interior lineman and lacks the height expected for the position. Taylor wasn’t overly productive aside from one amazing game against North Carolina in 2019 (more on that later) and as a result, he is viewed by most as an early fifth-round player at best.

Despite his deficiencies, Taylor has some unique traits that lead me to believe he’s a ball of clay just waiting for a sculptor. For starters, Taylor is more agile and explosive than any 295-pound player has a right to be. His quickness off the ball and lateral movement is astounding, and he uses them as weapons to shoot gaps and attack the edge.

On top of his speed, Taylor has extremely long arms for his 6-foot-1 frame, and he uses that length to keep blockers out of his chest and convert speed to power. Most shorter linemen have natural length disadvantages, but Taylor has no trouble keeping himself clean and getting off blocks.

Explosion, explosion, explosion. Charlotte is running Split Zone, and Taylor is lined up as a 5-technique on the left side. Taylor reads the play and shoots into the B-gap after the snap, easily beating the reach-block from the offensive tackle, and blows up the running back as soon as he gets the ball. Taylor started from two gaps over and was still explosive enough to make the tackle before the back could even look up.

Now, the infamous North Carolina game where Taylor had a huge day. Again, Taylor puts that speed and length to use. The line slides away from Taylor and he is left with a tight end blocking. This time, the tight end doesn’t overset and stays square, but Taylor uses a hump move to the tight end’s inside shoulder and “opens the gate.” Once his chest is clear, Taylor resets that inside arm on the tight end’s back and pushes through him for a sack. Converting speed to power is a crucial skill when it comes to pass-rushing, and when Taylor gets a running start, there aren’t many players that can match his power and length.

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