Jullian Taylor is the type of player you take a swing on in the draft. Taylor tested as the No. 2 SPARQ athlete in the 2018 NFL Draft among all defensive linemen. A high-end athlete endured an injury-plagued career at Temple before breaking out as a senior. Taylor missed his redshirt sophomore season with a leg injury suffered against Penn State, and the following season, he missed a game against Charlotte that caused him to miss the rest of the season.
Taylor appeared in six games during each of his first two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Taylor played 101 snaps in 2019, playing almost exclusively at defensive tackle. Per PFF, Taylor only played one snap at defensive end, and nine at nose tackle. The rest came as a three-technique, which best suits Taylor’s skill set.
Taylor saw his most action as a reserve in Weeks 11-13, where he played over 20 snaps in each game. Taylor was going to play a significant role in Week 17 against the Seahawks, but he suffered a knee injury the Thursday before the game that cost him the rest of the season. Taylor was likely to fill in for D.J. Jones as he was the only player over 300 pounds at the time.
Age: 25 (turned 25 on January 30)
Experience: Two accrued seasons
Taylor enters the third year of his four-year rookie contract. In 2020, Taylor’s cap number will be $774,511. If the 49ers were to release Taylor, they’d save $750,000, which is his base salary.
What to expect in 2020
Taylor will likely start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list after he had an ACL tear on December 26. Taylor was at his best at three-technique. He didn’t play much, but you saw flashes against the Cardinals where he wins with an arm over off the snap. Against Washington, Taylor made a huge stop on fourth down from nose tackle. He flashed a couple of times against Baltimore, too. When Taylor got an opportunity, he made plays.
I’m higher on Taylor than most. He would play a lot more snaps if he weren’t playing behind so much talent. Keeping him inside will help Taylor get on the field more, but he has to be healthy. Once Taylor does return, I’d expect a jump in Year 3. To me, Taylor is a sneaky breakout candidate because he can get after the passer, has the athleticism to make plays against the run, and we saw him show the strength to beat double teams and disrupt plays in the backfield.
Odds of making the roster
If Taylor enters the season healthy, he’ll make the roster. To me, he’s who the team believes Solomon Thomas can be. Taylor has the coveted size to hold up inside, but enough quickness to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. Behind Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Jones, Taylor is the most-talented interior lineman on the team. He’s an ideal rotation player with the potential to grow into a larger role. Taylor’s health has hurt his development, but 2020 will be a great opportunity for Taylor to make a name for himself.