The New England Patriots already had one of the deepest offensive backfields in the NFL even before they added J.J. Taylor as an undrafted rookie earlier this year. While this means that Taylor will face an uphill climb to make the team, signing him has been classified as a good move — at least according to advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus, which named the 15 best rookie free agency signings. Taylor checks in at number six.
PFF’s Ben Linsey had to say the following about the Arizona product:
6. RB J.J. Taylor to the New England Patriots
PFF Big Board Rank: 149
The “fun to watch” label gets thrown out a lot during draft season, but, man, Taylor is fun to watch. Coming in at 5-foot-5 and 185 pounds, Taylor has a legitimate hit stick. He has no fear running straight through defenders much larger than him. He also has some light feet and natural receiving ability that could make him a nice threat out of the backfield in New England. Compared to some of the running backs that came off the board as early as the second round (looking at you, A.J. Dillon) getting Taylor as an undrafted free agent is great value. The fit couldn’t be much better in New England, either, as he can learn from someone like James White.
Despite his lack of size, Taylor proved himself a productive player at Arizona due to his quickness and nifty footwork. As part of a running back committee, he registered 148 carries for 721 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 — which was not even his best campaign: the previous year, Taylor had a 255-carry 1,434-yard season that saw him find the end zone six times. Add the fact that he also has considerable receiving experience and you can see why PFF was high on him during the pre-draft process.
Now, all he has to do is show that he belongs on the Patriots’ roster or practice squad during training camp and preseason. If the youngster can do that, he could potentially put himself in a position to take over if one or both of James White and Rex Burkhead leave New England as unrestricted free agents next offseason.