After several flight delays in getting to town, Browns first round pick Phil Taylor was introduced to the Cleveland media on Friday afternoon inside the Dino Lucarelli Media Room at the team’s Berea headquarters.
Taylor, one of four defensive tackles along with Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and Muhammad Wilkerson taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, was presented with his No. 1 jersey by Browns Coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert.
“I just know that it’s an up-and-coming team,” Taylor said about the Browns. “I look forward to being out there. It’s a young defense and I look forward to being out there making plays with the young guys out there. I just want to get out there as soon as we can.
“When I came here on my visit, it felt like home,” he added. “In my mind, I wanted to be a Brown. When they called, it was like a dream come true.”
Taylor registered 107 total tackles, 16 tackles for 57 lost yards, 5.5 sacks and one interception in his collegiate career. He blocked a field goal against the University of Connecticut and an extra point against Kent State in 2009.
“He wants me to be a great athlete, get out there and do what I’ve got to do,” Taylor said of Shurmur. “He’s a great coach and I look forward to being coached by him.”
Taylor, who was part of history as his college teammate Danny Watkins became the first pair of Baylor Bears ever taken in the same first round, was the third defensive lineman drafted by the Browns in the first round. He was the first defensive lineman taken in the first round by the Browns since 2001, when they drafted Gerard Warren out of the University of Florida at No. 3 overall. Doug Atkins (Tennessee) was taken in the first round of the 1953 NFL Draft.
Taylor may have endeared himself to Browns fans by answering questions about facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, specifically quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his motivation to play in the National Football League.
“I know how much the Cleveland fans hate Pittsburgh and I look forward to the match-up, just going against him,” said Taylor. “He’s a great quarterback, but when I’m playing against him, he’s going to go down.
“I want to win and get to a Super Bowl,” he added. “I love to win and hate to lose. I’m going to come in here, ready to work and do what I’ve got to do to play.”
When he takes the field for the Browns, Taylor will see a former opponent in the Browns secondary. While at Gwynn Park High School, he competed against the team’s top draft pick from 2010, cornerback and Pro Bowl alternate
Haden played prep football at Friendly High School back in Maryland.
“We played at rival high schools,” Taylor recalled. “I never lost to Friendly High School.
“I know Joe on a personal basis,” he added. “We’re real excited. I’m ready to get to work and he’s ready to get to work as well.”
DEALING WITH THE PAST
Prior to the transfer to Baylor, Taylor was at Penn State University. Off-the-field incidents in 2007 and 2008 led to his dismissal from the team. However, Taylor left those problems in Happy Valley and took a new attitude down to Texas.
“It was just a learning experience; everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “I was young and just moved on from it. I’m blessed to be in this situation right now. Baylor was just the best move for me and I’m glad I made that move.
“You can only get better learning from the things you did in the past,” added Taylor. “I learned from that and I just moved on. It made me better today.”