The Arizona Cardinals didn’t receive much production at running back in 2012, so they decided to do something about it.
After filling more obvious holes on the offensive line and at middle linebacker with their first few draft picks, the Cardinals added an explosive option at running back in Stepfan Taylor. Taylor operated under current San Francisco 49ers‘ coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, and he played with Andrew Luck at Stanford as well. While Luck was good at Stanford, he received lots of help from Taylor.
Taylor averaged more than 5.1 yards per carry (YPC) at Stanford, and he averaged 5.5 YPC in his senior season. Taylor ran a slow 4.64 40-yard dash at his pro day, but he still managed to break a lot of big runs. Taylor broke a double-digit run in all but one game, and he broke a run of 18 yards or more in eight games. In addition, he scored 13 touchdowns.
The Stanford product is 5’9″ and weighs 214 pounds, giving him a build extremely similar to that of two successful running backs in Ray Rice and Frank Gore. Both Rice and Gore are dominant backs, as both can find a hole and power through it. Taylor can do the same thing, and he’s hard to bring down. The Cardinals were the second-worst team at punching the ball into the end zone in the red zone, so some help in the red zone would be appreciated.
Taylor can provide that help.
The Stanford product accumulated eight red zone touchdowns, and if he does continue to produce in the red zone he will definitely emerge as one of Arizona’s primary ball-carriers. Rookies, especially fifth-round rookies, don’t usually get tons of playing time, but Taylor has the talent, the skillset and the build to take over as Arizona’s starting running back.
Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ offense has the potential to be a well-rounded offense, as Palmer is an explosive quarterback. He didn’t have much help in Oakland and Cincinnati, but Taylor can provide him with that help.
Why? Because Taylor is a threat to break big runs and can keep defenses honest.
If Taylor can perform as well as he did in college, he will be a huge help to the Cardinals. Taylor had a superb offensive line at Stanford, and he’ll have Jonathan Cooper and Levi Brown to pave holes for him. If Taylor sees a hole, he will explode through it and rack up a good chunk of yardage. As long as Taylor keeps doing that, he will be successful. After all, Arizona was the worst team in the NFL with 3.4 YPC.
The Cardinals were able to put their bigger needs first and still get a talented running back at great value here. To me, this is a great pick, one that is well-deserving of a solid A.