NFL Draft Diamonds Scouting Report: Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois University
- Name: Brett Taylor
- Position: ILB/OLB
- School: Western Illinois
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 230 lbs.
- Class: Redshirt Senior
Games Watched: Career Highlights
Strengths: Taylor has decent size for a linebacker with decent length. He can lineup as an ILB in 4-3 sets, and as an OLB in 3-4 sets. Plays with a high motor on most plays, and with good range. He uses good concentration & mental processing to diagnose run plays. He has good lateral quickness from sideline to sideline to shut down outside zone runs & jet sweeps. He uses a good rip move to disengage from defenders while in pursuit. He can sift through traffic well to square up the ball carrier in the hole to stop the inside zone run. He can crash the backfield & rush the QB from the inside in a 4-3, and from the edge in a 3-4. He shows good discipline & ball skills in zone coverage. He brings down the ball carrier with good form. He has potential to be a special teams star.
Weaknesses: On film, Taylor plays with a stiff lower body when he moves, especially when dropping back into pass coverage. He tends to have a high pad level when engaged with a defender. He seems to only use one move to shed blocks when rushing the QB. His abilities to cover the RB or TE in man coverage is a question. His tackling ability in the open field is another question as well. He can be a possible liability against play action passes.
Summary: Taylor was a three-year starter for the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks from 2015-2017. He was named to multiple All-American teams in 2016 & 2017 and was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection from 2015-2017. He was a finalist for the 2017 Buck Buchanan Award, was named the 2017 All-Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and he led all of FCS in tackles in both 2016 (134 tackles) & 2017 (162 tackles). Taylor plays with decent size & length with a high motor. His mental processing, range, and lateral quickness allows him to diagnose & shut down both inside zone runs, outside zone runs, and jet sweeps. Against the pass, he is athletic enough to be used to rush the QB from multiple spots, and he shows good discipline & ball skills in zone coverage despite being a possible liability against the play action pass. At the next level, he will need to show coaches that he can play with a lower pad level when engaged with a defender, use a variety of moves to shed blocks when rushing the passer, cover RB’s & TE’s in man coverage consistently, and be able to bring down ball carriers in the open field. Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, I see Taylor being taken in the fourth or fifth round to a team needing depth at ILB in their 4-3 scheme where he can be a special teams star while being developed for a starting position late in his first year, or in his second year.
- Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round Selection