There’s no questioning that a healthy Jonathan Taylor is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He made that clear in 2021, just his second season in the league, leading the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Following that season, Taylor had the respect of everyone, as he was consistently referred to as a top-two running back in the NFL.
That was the case in the 2022 version of Jeremy Fowler’s annual position ranking that he creates based off polling NFL players, coaches, and execs. Last year, Taylor was ranked second among running backs, trailing only Derrick Henry. This year, Taylor is still one spot behind Henry, but both players have had somewhat significant drops.
Still listed in the top 10 as one of the best running backs in the league, Taylor was ranked on this year’s list at No. 6— a four-spot drop from his No. 2 ranking of last year.
Jonathan Taylor ranked sixth-best running back by players, coaches, and execs
In the blurb by Fowler detailing Taylor’s ranking, he highlighted that Indianapolis ranked 23rd in run block win rate, a significant drop from the No. 7 ranking in 2021. This data led to a quote from an anonymous personnel executive that essentially downplayed Taylor’s ability.
""He's got top-end speed and can get the tough yards, but he's not a creative guy who can do it on his own," the executive said. "He needs it blocked up and then he can make it happen.""- NFL executive via Jeremy Fowler (ESPN)
This assessment of Taylor as a running back couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you watched his action with the Colts last season. Yes, Taylor is better with a better offensive line, as are all running backs. That’s the nature of football, you need your teammates to succeed. However, saying that Taylor can only make things happen once everything is blocked up isn’t accurate.
In 11 games last season, Jonathan Taylor had 192 carries for 861 yards and four touchdowns. That’s 4.5 yards a carry. Indy’s line was abysmal last season. A running back that can only make things happen when everything is blocked up certainly isn’t averaging 4.5 yards per rush behind that line. There were countless times where Taylor should’ve been tackled in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage, but he worked to turn the runs into three- to five-yard gains.
There’s certainly merit to dropping Taylor in the rankings; the 2022 season was largely a disappointment for him and the Colts. However, Taylor still showed that he’s an elite running back that has the skills to make something out of nothing.