After kicking off this series with Houston’s superstar Ed Oliver, we’ll stay on the defensive side of the ball with a cornerback at Florida State in Levonta Taylor.
Let’s break down the potential star of the Seminoles secondary for this upcoming college football season.
Originally from Virginia Beach and an alumni of Ocean Lakes High School, Taylor was a highly coveted five star recruit with offers from essentially every top program. He was the top ranked cornerback from the 2016 class and the 5th overall player on the ESPN 300.
As a true freshman for Florida State he appeared in 12 games, but took on a much bigger role as a Sophomore in 2017 as a full-season starter. In 13 games he had two interceptions and a was elite in receptions allowed per snap in coverage.
Taylor is expected to be the face of the Seminoles secondary in 2018 as Derwin James and Tavarus McFadden have moved on to the NFL.
Twitch, fluidity and instincts
The ideal corner has light feet, fluid hips and the proper instincts to maximize those traits. This is where Taylor instantly checks all the right boxes on the field.
When in zone coverage, he has the awareness to read where the quarterback is going with the ball, but also high end physical ability to make a play. Here’s a perfect example:
Levonta Taylor reading the QB all the way – comes off one target in the flat for the pick six. Quick, twitchy CB with great long speed – pic.twitter.com/KdUzoBwKzW
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) May 15, 2018
Much like Denzel Ward, who went fourth overall in this year’s draft, Taylor is an elite athlete. His testing numbers as a recruit are superb with a 4.34 forty-yard dash and a vertical over 40 inches. It’s no coincidence both players excel as mirror-and-match cornerbacks.
Revisiting that excellent forty time, Taylor has very little issue keeping up with targets down the field. In the example below, Florida State has him playing off by about six yards. With his speed, it’ll be nearly impossible for a receiver to beat him deep in this situation.
Here's the deep speed – puts himself right in position to locate the ball and makes the play down the field pic.twitter.com/B7vIoPzoj9
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) May 16, 2018
With a smooth pedal, turn and run he gives himself more than enough time to locate the ball to make the play on it. For all defensive backs, but especially those under six feet, this is a vital ability as it helps them matchup at the catch point.
Taylor is one of the most explosive prospects expected to be in next year’s secondary class. Despite his size, he has proven he can thrive on the outside against bigger targets.
Many will compare his style of play, specifically in coverage, to Denzel Ward. Fortunately for Taylor, it looks as if his frame can hold a little more weight in the future than the 180-185 pounds Ward will play at.
Next year’s cornerback class has plenty of potential top prospects between LSU’s Greedy Williams, Georgia’s Deandre Baker, Miami’s Michael Jackson and Western Michigan’s Sam Beal. With the immense talent he possesses, expect Levonta Taylor to enter that conversation.
Photo Credit: Seminoles.com