It didn’t take long for Taylor, whom the Browns acquired from the Dolphins in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick, to show why he was a second-round pick back in 2013.
Taylor recorded 57 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three interceptions in 15 games to emerge as one of the team’s rising defensive players amid an otherwise trying season. The Browns took notice of that production and signed him to a three-year contract extension last month as they continue to build a young nucleus of talent.
“We’re excited about his future here, and again, he is another one of those young pieces that we know that will be here and will be kind of the corps of our future,” head coach Hue Jackson said, “so I think it says a lot and hopefully there is more of that to come.”
Ask Taylor about his personal success, though, and the former Boise State star will shrug it off and deflect praise elsewhere.
“When you get coaches that believe in you – I said this plenty of times – it can change a player tremendously,” he said earlier this week. “I know a lot of guys around the league, it doesn’t work out for them the first team — I’m not the first guy – and they go somewhere else and they ball and make Pro Bowls and things like that.”
Such was the case for Taylor, who was limited by injuries and other circumstances during his time in South Florida.
“You’re like, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ It’s the same guy that he was in college or wherever he was before. It’s just he has some coaches that put him in good situations that let him just do his thing.”
Indeed, Taylor — who turned 26 in September — served as something of a veteran on a youthful Browns defense.
“He has played really well for us. He is experienced. It is very important – football is very important to him,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.
“When he was at Miami, I did not know what kind of person, what kind of teammate he was. In the classroom, he is here early and he is here late. He helps the young guys. It’s very important. He’s calming. He is a solidifying force back there. He can play multiple positions. He also could play free safety if we needed him to in a pinch. He did that himself. He earned the right to get another contract and continue to play because he has played well for us.”
With the offseason in swing, Taylor said he’s hoping to get healthy after battling through a groin injury for the latter half of the season, much like his counterpart
“I’m a leader for sure, but we have guys like Joe and Tramon (Williams Sr.) and Demario (Davis), where I kind of let those guys talk, I kind of just lead by example a lot I connect with the young guys watching film and then just on the field,” he said.
“Hopefully next year I’ll be a little more vocal now that I know I’m going to be here and being in this defense for a whole year. Hopefully just my leadership role keeps expanding.”