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Could NY Jets UDFA become John Franklin-Myers’ replacement?

Leonard Taylor
Leonard Taylor

UDFA Leonard Taylor has the potential to become the New York Jets’ John Franklin-Myers replacement

The New York Jets lost one of the most versatile pieces of their defensive line when they sent John Franklin-Myers to the Denver Broncos over NFL draft weekend. Franklin-Myers’ ability to line up on the edge and the interior made him a vital cog in New York’s defense.

However, his eventual replacement may already be on the roster: UDFA Leonard Taylor III.

At this time last year, the 6-foot-3, 303-pound Miami DT was projected as a first-round pick throughout mock drafts. However, an injury-plagued and inconsistent final season saw him fall down draft boards. With that said, he was still considered a Day 3 pick on consensus boards. In my own draft profile for Taylor, I suggested he was a late-Day 2 prospect who had star potential.

I’ll be frank – there are quite a few things that Taylor needs to work on, especially in the run game. He has a tendency to turn his shoulder when initiating contact, which can take him out of a play entirely. However, I believe if he was used on the edge in rushing sets, he would have far more success.

Taylor was not used on the edge in Miami, but I think that was a mistake. Asking him to slim down and be a multi-positional player would have done wonders for the Hurricanes defense. However, that didn’t stop him from having success as a 3-technique. Taylor’s 28.6% pass-rush win rate shows just how talented he is.

Taylor thrived when rushing out of a 3-point stance at Miami. In that role, he displayed burst that wasn’t seen as consistently when he attacked from other stances. It also seemed to give him proper momentum to initiate his electric swim move.

Taylor is best when he’s attacking first, and that was evident on tape. He struggled when asked to be more of a space eater to allow others on the DL to make a play. At times, it seemed like he would take plays off as well. However, Taylor showed elite hand placement and burst when attacking offensive linemen. If the Jets can get the Miami product to show consistent effort, they might have come away with a steal.

Under head coach Robert Saleh, the Jets have turned under-the-radar defensive players into household names.

After being claimed off waivers in 2019, Franklin-Myers grew from a rotational depth piece into a multi-positional tool for the Jets. Safety Tony Adams went from a UDFA to a starter. And, at this point, everyone knows how Bryce Huff went from a UDFA on the Jets to landing a three-year, $51.1 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Given the current state of the Jets’ defensive line, there’s a real path to making the 53-man roster for Taylor. With how often Saleh likes to rotate his defensive linemen, there’s a possibility he could see some regular season action for the Jets this year.

Now, the onus is on Taylor to prove he isn’t wasted potential. And if he hits, the Jets could find themselves with a viable replacement for JFM.

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DFargas
DFargas
21 days ago

Well, it would be great to have an LT on the Jets defense. But at this point, I’m a little more concerned about the Jets’ ability to stop the run up front than about their pass rush and it sounds like stopping the run is his weakness. If the Jets keep overlooking run defense, it could end up being their Achilles heel this season.

Robby Sabo
Admin
17 days ago
Reply to  DFargas

That’s the big one I’m concerned with as well (interior run D).

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