Leonard Taylor III, Miami

Leonard Taylor III, Miami


Former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Leonard Taylor III trying to make a play during a college football game.

The New York Jets might have a potential steal on their hands.

Gang Green signed Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Leonard Taylor III to an undrafted free-agent contract.

Connor Rogers of NBC Sports said on “Badlands” that Taylor was projected 10 months ago to be a first-round draft choice in 2024, but he didn’t hear his name called in April’s draft.

“This was an interesting draft for the Jets that they didn’t really roll the dice on any guys character-wise in the actual draft but their UDFA market, Taylor is the headliner of their UDFA market. He is a guy who has Pro Bowl potential but could also be like literally Jachai Polite-style out of the league in 2 years,” Rogers explained in “War Room” via Badlands.

Top Social Media Reactions to the Jets Newest UDFA

The folks over at The Jet Press said on social media, “Wow this is an absolutely massive UDFA signing for the Jets. Leonard Taylor III was maybe the best-undrafted player available. Former 5-star recruit. Still just 21. So much untapped potential.”

Rogers said on X previously Twitter that Taylor was the “most notable” addition for the Jets on the undrafted free agent market.

“He was 184th on my big board, but 117th on the consensus board,” Rogers explained. “Expectations coming into the year of him being a top 40-50 pick. Didn’t put it together this season despite pass rush *flashes* over 2 yrs.”

Most notable #Jets UDFA is Miami DL Leonard Taylor

He was 184th on my big board, but 117th on the consensus board (per @ArifHasanNFL)

Expectations coming into the year of him being a top 40-50 pick. Didn’t put it together this season despite pass rush *flashes* over 2 yrs

Those pass rush flashes Rogers spoke of were evident according to the analytics. LT3 had a 28.6% pass rush win rate as a 3-technique according to Brett Kollmann who called out, “flat-out absurd.”

Leonard Taylor III’s pass rush win rate as a 3-technique was 28.6%, which is just flat out absurd.

The problem is Miami only gave him 28 pass rush snaps as a 3-technique the entire year.

He was a nose tackle on 127 pass rush snaps.

Remember that split while doing your evals.

Taylor, 21, measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-3 and tipped the scales at 303 pounds.

He was Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s No. 13 ranked defensive tackle in this draft class. Brugler had him graded as a fourth to fifth-round pick.

In three years at Miami, Taylor registered six sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, and finished with 64 total tackles.

A Ton of Untapped Potential

Taylor was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but he didn’t live up to the hype in college.

“Overall, Taylor doesn’t lack for talent, but the raw physical tools aren’t enough, and won’t deliver consistent on-field production until he develops a more disciplined approach,” Brugler said in “The Beast.” “While there is untapped potential there, it will require a patient coaching staff and complete buy-in from the player for him to work his way into an NFL rotation.”

The good news is the Jets have a great defensive coaching staff and they have a history of developing talent.

New York transformed Bryce Huff from a UDFA to a $51.1 million contract this offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tony Adams has become a full-time starter at safety after humble beginnings as a UDFA.

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic said Taylor “is entering a situation in which he’ll have a real opportunity to make the 53-man roster.”

New York has one superstar at the position in Quinnen Williams, but everyone else around him at defensive tackle is hired mercenaries.

Leki Fotu, Javon Kinlaw, and Solomon Thomas are all only signed through the 2024 season. New York lacks a long-term answer alongside Williams.

“Taylor should be considered the early favorite to push for a roster spot,” Rosenblatt added.

“That’s a guy that you’re going to be on him, they’re going to be like dude you gotta earn this, like you can’t take plays off. You have all the talent in the world but you gotta earn this,” Rogers said. “I’m kind of fascinated by it. The Jets, to their credit, can take on these raw questionable projects on the defensive line. They have great coaches, they have Quinnen Williams, they have all of these great guys on the defensive line.”

It’s a low-risk move for the Jets that has a chance for a high reward. If Taylor maximizes his talent the Jets got a cheap young stud for the next several years. If he can’t keep his head on straight, New York can simply cut ties at any point.

Paul A. Esden Jr. covers the New York Jets for Heavy.com. A New York native, he is also the official PA voice of the Syracuse Strong Football Club and co-hosts Cumulus Media’s morning show, “The Manchild Show with Boy Green.” Before joining Heavy in 2021, Esden Jr. covered both national and New York sports for FanSided, Elite Sports NY and The Score 1260. More about Paul A. Esden Jr.

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