By: Jay Moore (@Jay_Moore49)
Final Edit: (@Zachhernan)
New 49ers WR Trent Taylor was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft (177 overall). Trent hails from Louisiana Tech, where former 49er-great Jeff Driskel played his college ball as well(okay maybe not so great). Taylor stands at 5′ 8″ and 174 lbs. and ran a 4.63/40 at the NFL combine. He’s your prototypical slot receiver, runs quick, makes good cuts in routes, and knows how to get open – think Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley.
Let’s check out what to expect out of Trent Taylor this season.
First off let’s talk about where he wins – Taylor will catch the majority of his passes between the numbers. (Hello CJ Beathard, A.K.A. his new best friend). Trent literally catches everything thrown his way. For example, out of 397 targets he had only 12 drops! Current starter Vance McDonald could knock that out in half a game. One of Taylor’s greatest strengths is that he holds onto the ball even through contact, even big hits. In the NFL, Taylor will most likely do most of his work again in the middle of the field, where he will be seeing a lot of big hits. He’s a very sharp route runner, and not only does he run smart, but also has a knack at finding the open holes in the zone. Trent is as great as there is when it comes to yards after the catch, and will turn a lot of the short throws into big gains. He catches extremely well on the run and in rhythm.
The biggest knock on Taylor is his size. He’s most certainly not a big guy, and he won’t wow you in the weight room either. His hands are tiny in NFL terms – 8 ¼ inches. For comparison, Julio Jones has 9 ¾ inch hands. It’s almost unheard of for guys to not only have that small of hands in the NFL, but also find success catching the football. Factoring that in really makes his tape that much more impressive, as he really catches everything thrown his way, even with those little hands. Next is his arm length, again very short for his position. It will really hurt him with his catch radius, and passes coming his way will need to be on target so he can get his hands on the ball to bring it in.
Trent Taylor was one of Kyle Shanahan’s draft crushes for a reason. He’s the perfect slot receiver in this scheme. Taylor will most likely catch a ton of short passes in the middle of the field, and also have a lot of yards after the catch. He will line up mainly in the slot; I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes 95% or more of his snaps in the slot, as he just doesn’t have the frame, speed, or catch radius to play on the outside.
All in all, Taylor was a 5th round pick – so we should be keeping expectations somewhat low on him, but I for one am excited to see what Kyle Shanahan can do with him. Last season in Atlanta, 13 different players caught a touchdown in Shanahan’s offense. He likes to rotate receivers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taylor get 50+ targets next season.
Trent’s quickest way onto the field will be on special teams. He has experience fielding punts at Louisiana Tech, and averaged 10.2 yards per return in 2016 – which was his career high. However, he’s never returned one to the house in his college career. He will be in a battle for that spot with a few other guys, which will be an extremely important camp battle to keep our eyes on. I know I can’t wait to see what he does in the upcoming season.