Colts: PFF disrespects Jonathan Taylor in annual RB rankings

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts’ decision to draft Jonathan Taylor with their second pick of the 2020 draft was widely regarded as a steal among experts.

Not only was the best running back in the nation at Wisconsin for a multi-year stretch, but he was the third RB taken behind the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift, and he was entering an incredibly favorable situation with the Colts.

Like most rookies, Taylor got off to a slow start after he was forced into the starting role earlier than expected following Marlon Mack’s season-ending injury. By the end of the season, however, the former Badger established himself as one of the best young players at the position.

In fundamentally confounding fashion, Pro Football Focus doesn’t see it like that. In fact, they massively disrespected Taylor in their annual running back rankings. Prepare yourselves, Colts fans, because this was an absolute atrocity of a list.

Per PFF, Taylor is the 16th-best (!) RB in the league entering the 2021 season.

Pro Football Focus ranking Jonathan Taylor as the 16th-best RB is laughable.

We’ll start by acknowledging that Taylor had a rough start to life in the NFL. He showed flashes through the first several games, but endured a brutal three-game stretch following the Week 7 bye in which he totaled just 51 rushing yards on 24 carries.

During the second half of the season, however, you’d be hard-pressed to name many running backs who were better than Taylor. Over the final six games, the Wisconsin product was unstoppable, compiling 762 rushing yards on 6.2 yards per carry and seven touchdowns.

That stretch included setting the Colts’ single-game record for rushing yards with 253 against Jacksonville in Week 17, which helped Indy clinch a spot in the postseason and allowed him to obliterate the all-important 1,000-yard threshold.

The performance gave him 1,169 yards (on 5.0 YPC) and 11 touchdowns for the season. To put those numbers into perspective, Taylor only trailed superstars Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook for the rushing title. He also finished tied for fourth in touchdowns and third in first downs (69).

To say Pro Football Focus had some questionable names ranked ahead of Taylor would be an understatement. With all due respect to the following players, Chris Carson (No. 8), Josh Jacobs (No. 9), Kareem Hunt (No. 10) (who doesn’t even start for the Browns), and Austin Ekeler (No. 13) (who’s more of a receiver than an outright RB) all should not be ranked ahead of Taylor.

Furthermore, we would argue Taylor should be ranked higher than Joe Mixon (No. 14), who’s averaged a lousy 3.9 YPC over the last two seasons, and Antonio Gibson (No. 15), who, despite enjoying a solid rookie season in Washington, isn’t quite on Taylor’s level.

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves too much here, but Ezekiel Elliot (No. 12) wasn’t all that effective with Dallas last season. If not for his name and overall brand, the Cowboys star, who tallied just 4.0 yards per carry last year, wouldn’t be four spots higher on this list than Taylor.

We normally wouldn’t overreact to a list like this, but we couldn’t let PFF get away with this blatant disrespect of Taylor. For as up and down as he was in the first half of the year, he was immaculate down the stretch of the season when Indianapolis had zero margin for error in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.