Yes, the prior regime in Cleveland made some questionable personnel decisions for which they fairly should be criticized. As to one of their first-round picks, however, it’s possible that there will be no room for criticism.
Defensive lineman Phil Taylor, who is entering his third NFL season, could soon become a Pro Bowler, in the opinion of those who know him.
Teammate Ahtyba Rubin tells Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository that it’s a no-brainer. Ditto for Taylor’s college position coach, Chris Achuff.
“Big men as athletic as Phil just don’t come around very often,” Achuff said. “Phil was about 6-3, 340 when he finished here, and he ran like a cat.”
Part of the challenge for Taylor will be adjusting from the 4-3 defense the team used under Dick Jauron to the 3-4 Ray Horton is installing.
“It’s not too much different,” Taylor said. “It’s playing my game, being disruptive in the backfield, and getting to the quarterback. . . . I can still line up anywhere. I’ll have the same opportunity to get sacks as I did the last two years.”
Still, Taylor’s primary motivation comes from pursuing team goals.
“First of all, it’s a team,” Taylor told Doerschuk. ”I’m going to do what I’ve got to do for the team, first. After that, if I make it to the Pro Bowl, I make it to the Pro Bowl. That is a goal. I do want to go to the Pro Bowl. But it’s about the team first. And we want to win games.”
The Browns need to win games. Desperately. And if Taylor can live up to the potential that vaulted him to the 21st overall pick in the draft, maybe they will.