The 49ers drafted Jullian Taylor in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, out of Temple, and the team spoke of the rarity in being able to draft a player with Taylor’s high level physical traits that late in the draft.
Taylor’s availability in the seventh round was undoubtedly due to his college career being heavily impacted by knee injuries, but he broke out in his final season, mainly as a high level interior run defender. His defensive scheme in college is very similar to the one run by the 49ers, and Taylor has spoken about the similarities between his roles early on as a 49er and what he did in college.
Age: 23 Experience: Rookie Height: 6’5 Weight: 280lbs
Taylor has just signed a four-year contract worth up to $2,558,043. His cap hit this year is $504,510, and if released his dead money hit is $24,511.
Potential for 2018
Taylor’s most likely role is as a versatile backup as a across the defensive line. He has the ability to play 3-technique and 5-technique, as well as cover over the nose in a pinch — although he is undoubtedly undersized for that latter role.
Given his collegiate production, Taylor will probably have to carve out a niche as a rotational run down piece as a rookie, which has the benefit of keeping the likes of DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead fresher for passing downs. In this role, he will be able to play to his strengths as a run stopper, where he utilizes his upper and lower body explosiveness to penetrate and beat offensive linemen. Taylor’s fit in this scheme looks good, both given his prior collegiate experience as well as his abilities as a penetrator - a key demand of all the 49ers’ defensive linemen.
Odds of making the roster
Had Kentavius Street been healthy, Taylor’s odds would look considerably worse, as they have similar versatility. However, Street is having an enforced redshirt year because of his ACL injury, meaning Taylor could become a key backup at both big end and 3-technique, though third year pro Ronald Blair may well have something to say about that. Due to the 49ers’ desire to have a heavy defensive line rotation, I would say the odds are tilted in Taylor’s favor to make the roster, particularly because he can cover two, maybe even three spots.
His performances this season could be enormous in dictating the future of Armstead, who needs to play at a considerably higher level than Taylor and Blair (should they both make the roster) if the team are to pay him his fifth year option once Street returns next year.
I also interviewed Taylor for Nothing But Niners on YouTube a few weeks ago. Check it out for more Taylor info.