My wife made this fantastic roast Sunday night. It had a flavorful and crispy crust, a well-defined ring, red but not too red across the body of the meat, with a very red (but again not too red) center. She’s made some good ones before, but they paled in comparison to this gem.
Unfortunately, this week’s flavor of the week isn’t a top-of-the-line roast. Sorry, I just wanted to brag about my wife for a moment … and bring back fond memories of that delicious roast. Anyway, this week’s flavor? He’s about 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds soaking wet and has one touchdown this year. I know, real appetizing, just like that roast, huh? Here me out though.
This same player had 1,803 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns his senior season in college. Oh, now you’re interested again, huh? I’m not usually one to put much stock in raw stats, especially at the college level, but the way Trent Taylor went about it, showed that his game could translate to the next level. He wasn’t just a stat monger against inferior competition. He displayed all of the traits of your typical slot receiver, but … a little something extra too. A lot something extra actually.
Receivers of his stature need some special qualities to stand out and he has them. He comes with a great drop rate, but it isn’t just a product of well thrown balls. He gets every inch out of his catch radius as his sticky fingers pull in poorly placed passes that others put where only he can go get it – high, low, wide; if his hands can get to them he can reel it in. Most good slot receivers are explosive and quick in-and-out of their breaks, and while Taylor is no exception most slot receivers can be contained 1-on-1; Taylor can’t. Part of it is his excellent route running ability, but I eluded to another component of it before – his ability at the catch point. Smaller slot receivers are often limited to the middle of the field, but Taylor makes plays at all levels. He’s great in the short game, but he also makes plays in the deep-middle, deep-out, and even on the intermediate boundary. He has the ability to make plays all over the field, and in space he is a nightmare to try to bring down. Combine all of his quick twitch skills with such a wide range of potential targets and he’s a nightmare for defenders. A major part of playing cornerback well at the professional level is running the receivers route better than your opponent; with such a wide arsenal at Taylor’s disposal, defenders cannot guess what Taylor will do on any given route. And even if they do, Taylor’s routes are so crisp he can still win anyway.
So, the million dollar question, why are you first hearing about him now? Okay, dynasty players probably know about him, but most probably don’t know much beyond his name and his production this past Sunday. This sure sounds like the makings of a special player though. Well, he was a Day 3 pick on a bad team who will be in position to easily replace him in a few months and hasn’t been productive. Players with his skill set, especially ones who don’t play in a Power 5 conference, have a tendency to fall draft day. He made the most out of his lead-up to the draft, but there was only so far he could go because he would not beat the size stigma. He had some attention grabbing moments early on, especially against the Los Angeles Rams, but injury derailed his train before it really got on the tracks. So why am I so confident this team won’t replace him?
The table was set to bury him on the depth chart entering this season and his impressive performance pushed Jeremy Kerley to the unemployment line Sept. 1. My expectations remained low for him this season because he was still saddled with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard as his quarterbacks. I made sure to get him back on my rosters after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade though. The future (and now) San Francisco quarterback comes from an offense that uses weapons with similar skill sets as Taylor, so his familiarity with this sort of player was going to pay dividends whenever they got the chance to play together. What you saw last week was no fluke – six targets, six receptions (five on third down), for almost 100-yards. This despite being up all night before the game throwing up. This is the role San Francisco envisioned when it drafted him and now that he has a legitimate quarterback he was able to translate his talent to the actual game. What we all saw on display Week 13 will continue through the final four weeks.
There will be personnel changes for San Francisco come season’s end, but some continuity is important for the development of any young quarterback. Taylor is cheap, cost controlled, uniquely skilled, and a great fit for both coach Kyle Shanahan and his new quarterback. I don’t know who else will be back in San Francisco next year, but Taylor will and he will be starting. He may not be someone you want to be considering starting Week 1, but while you may not feel comfortable with it now, you will feel comfortable with him as a primary bench option by Summer 2018. This offense will be one of the breakout offenses in the league next year and Taylor will be a major part of it.
This Week’s Flavor of the Week is: Fried Shrimp
It isn’t a roast and while it never sounds great on first listen, once it’s in front of you it’s very appetizing and it’s very predictable. It has the same taste and texture every time and will always leave you satisfied, even if deep down we always want something just a little more.