By now you probably already know Davion Taylor’s story. The Eagles’ third-round pick barely played high school football because of his family’s religious beliefs. He spent two years at a JUCO, two years at Colorado and now he’s in the NFL.
Taylor has rare blend of athleticism and explosion for a linebacker but he’s inexperienced. He’s green. He lacks instincts. The one word most commonly associated with Taylor is one he brought up himself on Wednesday:
And he knows it.
So what will it take for Taylor to go from being a raw prospect to a real contributor at the NFL level?
Hard work and dedication,” Taylor said on a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. “Being able to know that playbook in and out. I have to be able to just study as much as I can. I might have to lose sleep sometimes to make sure I’m in that playbook and to make sure the next day I won’t make that same mistake from yesterday. Being able to make sure I’m on top of everything.
“I have little to no room for mistakes. I just feel like I have to push every day and get better every single day because I have to be ready for when the season starts. I shouldn’t have an excuse when the season comes around.
No excuses. At least not from Taylor.
Getting to camp
Taylor said he’s been learning all three linebacker positions in the Eagles’ defense because he wants to be ready for anything. (Learning to play inside will be the biggest departure from what he did at Colorado.) While Taylor gained a lot from the virtual offseason, he admitted he was probably at a disadvantage because he’s more of a hands-on learner. Now, in training camp, he’ll finally get more of that.
The Eagles, as you might have noticed, are a little light at linebacker heading into the 2020 season. Nathan Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley and Alex Singleton are the top returners. Then there’s free agent Jatavis Brown and fellow draft pick Shaun Bradley. Taylor might be raw, but he might also be in a situation where he’s able to earn some playing time as a rookie.
If nothing else, he figures to be a major piece on special teams.
“Me, personally, I want to play all the special teams I can and also be on that field,” he said. “I want to do everything I can to contribute to this team and help us win a championship.”
Taylor, 21, had already been doing the extra work at Colorado. Trying to catch up to guys who played football for their whole lives isn’t easy.
In fact, one of the big things the Eagles wanted to find about Taylor during the pre-draft process was whether or not he was burnt out. They knew how hard he had been working and they wanted to make sure he still had the same fire to continue that in the NFL after he signed his first contract.
The Eagles got the answer to that question and took Taylor with the 103rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. So far, it seems like they were right.
And you can see why Taylor intrigued them so much. As a pure athlete, he has the potential to be great:
Taylor said the one NFL linebacker that he really watches and tries to emulate is Pro Bowler Deion Jones, who has been the prototypical hybrid linebacker in the modern NFL. If the Eagles end up with a player like that, they’d obviously be thrilled.
When asked about the knock on him that he lacks instincts because of his limited football background, Taylor conceded that was probably accurate in college. But no excuses in the NFL. He’s determined to do any extra work that helps him overcome his unique background.
“I can’t really just be using that excuse as a handicap …” Taylor said. “But I use it as a blessing also, because I have a high ceiling and I still have so much more to learn. And I’m willing to learn, I want to learn. I feel like it’s a blessing at the same time.”
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