Thanks to head coach Frank Beamer and long-time coordinator Bud Foster, the Hokies have become a regular contributor to NFL defenses. Virginia Tech has had at least one defender drafted each spring since 1999, one of only a half dozen colleges to achieve that feat.
Taylor suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot eight games into his junior season. He earned honorable mention All-ACC honors despite missing four games, making 53 tackles, eight for loss, and five sacks. He started every game the previous year, leading the team with 91 tackles, 15.5 for loss, six sacks, and four pass break-ups, after playing in six games as a reserve in his redshirt freshman season (six tackles). Coaches considered playing Taylor in his first year on campus, moving him from linebacker to defensive end, but a shoulder injury prevented it. As a senior, in 12 games, Taylor racked up 76 tackles (10.5 for loss) and 5.5 sacks. He was named a honorable mention to the Coaches All-ACC team for the second consecutive year.
Strong upper body and some thickness through his torsos and thighs help him inside. Holds up linemen trying to move him on the second level, extending his long arms to maintain distance, and can shed to tackle backs cutting off the block. Flashes the quickness come inside-out to trip up running backs and mobile quarterbacks before they break through the second level. Shows instincts in recognizing plays and taking good angles to the ball carrier. Closes hard on running backs running in the flat or towards the sideline in coverage, making the big hit or wrapping up in the open field. Good blitzer, and he is reliable to break down -- and bring down -- the quarterback.
Injury history, which seems to have taken its toll on his game speed. Late to break on plays not in front of him. Inconsistent finding the ball in traffic and preventing cutbacks on zone plays, also loses track of running backs in coverage on occasion when following the quarterback instead of adhering to his responsibility. Doesn't display the quickest feet in coverage. Bounces off some tackles when trying to hit rather than wrap or not quite having the speed to get the angle on the ballcarrier. Won’t win one-on-one battles against better linemen as a pass rusher until he starts using his quick hands in that role.
Taylor led the Hokies in tackles in 2010 (91, 15.5 for loss) and seemed on his way to another big year as a junior before a Lisfranc injury in his right foot stopped it after eight games. He recovered and played in 12 games as a senior, but did not appear to be the same player pre-injury. His thick upper body and fair speed and agility could see him at middle linebacker or strong side linebacker. He's a likely late-round selection.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.