Roger Goodell will call Jawaan Taylor’s name early in Round 1.
The stud right tackle out of Florida hopes to go in the top 10, and he definitely would be an option at 13 for the Dolphins, who have interest. Chris Grier made meeting with Taylor one of his first priorities of Combine week; Taylor visited with the Dolphins on Tuesday night.
But whenever Taylor comes off the board, it’s only possible because of a lifestyle choice he made the summer before his senior year at Cocoa High School on the Space Coast.
Taylor weighed a whopping 383 pounds, and Gators coaches said he was simply too overweight to get a scholarship at UF.
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On the football field, Taylor was already mean. Now he had reason to get lean.
Over the next few months, he shed some 50 pounds — transforming both his body and his life. The offer from UF came in and he went on to be a three-year starter.
And now Taylor, the one-time University of Miami recruit who de-committed after Al Golden was fired, has a chance to be the first offensive lineman off the board in April.
“Just changed up my eating habits,” Taylor said at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday. “Worked out three times a day. Just took it very serious. Florida was a dream school of mine. So I just did everything it took to get there.
“When my conditioning got better I was a much better player, especially on the field,” Taylor said. “Getting to the second level. Being able to pull on screens. Different things like that to change my game a lot and be a better player.’
But it took discipline. No mac and cheese. No fried food. And no Hostess Cakes.
This was no fad diet. It was a lifestyle change, one that he maintains to this day.
He weighed in at 312 this week — probably the lightest he’s been since hitting his growth spurt — and was still able to rip off 24 bench-press reps. Taylor will not run this week due to a lingering hamstring issue, but expects to go through individual drills.
Taylor plans to do everything at his Pro Day on March 27, and if he couples a good showing this week with a good showing then, he could indeed be the first lineman taken.
“I feel I am the best offensive tackle in the draft,” Taylor said.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network’s draft expert, thinks it’s a toss-up between Taylor and Washington State’s Andre Dillard for that title. In Jeremiah’s most recent big board, he listed Dillard as the draft’s 10th best prospect, regardless of position, and Taylor No. 11.
“He has average height and a broad frame for the position,” Jeremiah wrote. “In the passing game, he has the foot quickness to cover up speed rushers and the athleticism to redirect versus counter moves. He has a bad habit of scooping instead of punching, which allows defenders to get into his chest. However, he is still sturdy versus power rushers despite giving up his chest. In the run game, he has tremendous upper-body strength to torque and toss defenders. He’s nasty. Some teams will prefer his power inside at the guard position, but I see him as a quality starting right tackle.”
Taylor believes he’s an NFL right tackle but is open to moving to guard if a team asks.
That could be his short-term home if the Dolphins take him at 13 — assuming they are able to keep Ja’Wuan James, whom Chris Grier said Wednesday the team wants to re-sign.
But if James walks, the Dolphins could replace one first-rounder with another.
“Just physical aggression,” Taylor continued. “I play very nasty. I play aggressive, so I feel like I could bring that to the offensive line room. Just a great guy who loves to work.”