Trent Baalke did not spend a lot of draft capital on offensive skill positions in the 2016 draft. Of the three skill position players Baalke did draft, Kelvin Taylor has an intriguing physical comparison that could translate to rookie year contributions.
The folks over at Mock Draftable put together a database of player comparisons based on combine results. The comps are a helpful way to envision a player’s athletic skill set based on known quantities. Kelvin Taylor’s comparison? Theo Riddick, another 6th round running back.
Coming out of Notre Dame the scouting report on Riddick described a versatile player with experience at both wide receiver and running back. Matt Waldman even listed Riddick in the wide receiver section of the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, noting the golden domer would move back to running back for the 2012 season. Despite not having breakaway speed and a lean frame, Riddick was praised for his elusiveness.
Kelvin Taylor is not nearly as polished at receiving as Riddick coming out of school. Taylor was simply not asked to do much in the passing game at Florida. But similar to Riddick, Taylor is more quick than fast, shows good burst through the hole, and could be a change up to Carlos Hyde’s bruising power. We know that Chip Kelly involves his running backs in passing concepts. From 2013 through 2015, Chip Kelly’s running backs were targeted an average of 7.4 times per game. There are targets to share and it’s not clear that Hyde’s best role is as a receiving threat.
There is another interesting thread connecting Riddick and Taylor. Curtis Modkins, the 49ers offensive coordinator, was Riddick’s position coach and in 2015 was promoted to run game coordinator. Under Modkins’ tutelage Riddick turned 99 targets into 80 receptions for 697 yards. Riddick also finished as Football Outsiders’ second-ranked receiving running back.
The depth chart behind Carlos Hyde is wide open. With an offensive coordinator experienced in utilizing a player with Taylor’s physical skills and a system with running back targets to go around, there’s room for Taylor to be the proverbial shake to Hyde’s bake in 2016.