Sophomore Expectations: Ryan Taylor

The Packers chose to re-enact the classic TV show "American Gladiators" during OTAs this year.

It's time for another round of Sophomore Expectations! See the previous entries on Randall Cobb (link), Davon House (link), and "The Doc" M.D. Jennings (link) as well.

Today we examine one of the less-heralded players from the 2011 draft class: tight end Ryan Taylor. He stands 6'3" and weighs in at 254 pounds. He's a blocker and a special teamer and that's been pretty much it so far, but he knows his role and he performs it well. If you get any production out of him in the passing game, that's just gravy. In other words, he's basically a younger, less-tattooed Tom Crabtree, a comparison that may have a lot to do with Taylor's potential roster spot and playing time this season.

Taylor played his college ball at North Carolina, where he spent most of his time (SPOILER ALERT!) blocking and playing special teams, but spent some time playing linebacker as well. His senior year he did get into the act catching the ball, though, with a 36 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdowns, setting the UNC record for most receptions in a season by a tight end. Taylor was considered a potential H-back leading up to the draft, and was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 draft with the 218th overall selection.

2011 Depth Chart position: #5 tight end, primary special teams player

2012 ceiling Depth Chart position: #2 tight end, primary special teams player
This is highly unlikely, but Taylor could perform better than Crabtree in the areas where they're similar and show enough in the passing game to make him a reasonable option ahead of D.J. Williams. If Andrew Quarless' rehab hits a snag, Taylor could wind up as the number two tight end behind Finley and see a lot of playing time on offense.

2012 floor Depth Chart position: Off the roster
The Packers might decide that having two tight ends that are only useful for blocking and special teams is redundant; if that's the case and the tattooed one looks better in training camp, he stays and Taylor goes.

2011 statistics: 1 catch, 4 yards, 1 touchdown; 7 tackles (5 solo, 2 assisted)

2012 Ceiling statistics: 20 catches, 180 yards, 3 touchdowns, 12 tackles
With so many targets to throw to, Rodgers won't be looking for his backup tight ends much. He's a big body who's agile, however, and could sneak out into the flat for some dump-offs and short first down plays. In the best-case scenario, he could also garner some Pro Bowl consideration for his work on special teams.

2012 Floor statistics: None
If your floor is "off the roster", your floor stats are zero.

Projected 2012 statistics: 10 catches, 80 yards, 2 touchdowns; 8 total tackles
I think Taylor makes the roster as the number 3 tight end, either due to Quarless' injury not healing as expected or him outplaying Crabtree and Williams in camp. Furthermore, I see him making the occasional catch on third down or in the red zone. He'll rack up his share of special teams tackles as well.

Where do you think Taylor fits on the roster this year?

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