Jonathan Taylor was already in the conversation of being the best running back prospect in this year's draft before his impressive showing at the NFL combine. And after his combine performance that included a position-best 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash, Taylor has likely improved his draft stock ahead of Wisconsin's pro day, which will take place on March 11. While there are few doubts about whether or not he has the tools be successful at the next level, Taylor recently told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer that he has one specific attribute that is also possessed by Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Saquon Barkley -- three of the NFL's best running backs.
"Todd Gurley was a playmaker on the field, Zeke was a playmaker on the field, Saquon was a playmaker on the field," said Taylor, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry during his time with the Badgers. "Same thing with myself: playmaker on the field. I've been constantly able to make plays for three years, and that's something I really wanted coming into college. I wanted to make sure for the three years I was here, that I was consistent, coaches knew what they were getting out of me every single practice, game, rep.
"They knew that Jonathan Taylor was going to play at a high level and that he was doing it consistently. Same thing with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliot, I'm sure their coaches knew every single day, that player was going to play at a high level."
Taylor's highlights at Wisconsin support his claim, as they are full of back-breaking runs that helped turn tight games into convincing wins for the Badgers. His 50 rushing touchdowns in just three seasons is another testament to his ability to make plays regardless of the circumstance. Last season, Taylor also showed more of his ability as a receiver. After not catching a touchdown pass during his first two seasons in Madison, Taylor caught five touchdowns last fall while averaging nearly 10 yards per reception.
Taylor, who left Wisconsin No. 2 all-time behind Ron Dayne in career rushing yards, also showed his ability to make plays on the outside as well as in between the tackles. While his 40 time from the combine showcased his speed, Taylor has also the vision needed to be an elite running back at the next level.
One detraction of Taylor could be the fact that he played in an offense at Wisconsin that was predicated on him having success. Oftentimes, Taylor was the beneficiary of Wisconsin's highly effective pre-snap motion that often left opposing defenses confused. Taylor also got used to having multiple blocking backs in front of him, something that won't be the case at the next level. This was the argument we heard about Wisconsin running backs until James White and Melvin Gordon arrived in the NFL to dispell it.
While he may have a few question marks (every prospect does), one thing Taylor is not lacking is confidence in himself. Confidence is something that every great back -- wither its Elliott, Gurley or Barkley -- possesses, and it's something Taylor will need to continue to have as he moves into the next chapter of his football career.