ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Wide receiver Jordan Taylor, a former high school and collegiate quarterback, didn’t hear his name called during the 2015 NFL Draft. Fortunately, the Denver Broncos signed the 6-foot-5, 210-pound college free agent and he’s making waves in the early stages of training camp.
The former Rice University standout has already endeared himself to the Broncos coaches for his acrobatic catches. One-handed, diving grabs have been par for the course and maybe even more impressive, especially for a rookie, is how quickly he’s acclimated to the mental aspect of the Broncos playbook.
“One of the things he [Taylor] really has going for him [is] he can handle a lot of information,” Head Coach Gary Kubiak said Saturday after practice. “He knows every spot out here right now, and that's an advantage. I think he's going to have an excellence chance to help this team.”
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Following practice today, Taylor talked about his connection to the Broncos via Klein Kubiak, the head coach's son, whom Taylor played with at Rice University. Did Klein's history with Taylor contribute to his signing with Denver?
"He definitely kept in contact throughout the draft process and during free agency," Taylor said. "I'm sure he had a few good words to say so I guess I have to give him a little credit. I played with him [Klein] for four years. He was a good player and a very smart player. He knew every position and knew exactly what to do."
It’s not easy for an undrafted rookie free agent to make an impact in training camp, but Taylor has already set himself apart from the other receivers at the bottom of the Bronco depth chart. Sporting the No. 87 jersey made famous in Denver by Ed McCaffrey and Eric Decker, Taylor already looks comfortable in his professional environs. But perhaps he wears that jersey number for a different reason. He talked about which NFL receiver he would compare his game to.
"As far a skill-wise, I don't know if I can compare myself to anyone just yet," Taylor said. "Jordy Nelson is a good comparison as far as someone that I would strive to be like. Obviously I have a long way to go to even touch some of the things that he's done, but probably him."
Taylor is competing with two veterans in Jordan Norwood and Andre Caldwell, as well as a log-jam of other young NFL hopefuls, like Bennie Fowler, Solomon Patton, David Porter, and Nathan Palmer. Kyle Williams was also in the mix, before he suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in Saturday’s practice.
Coach Kubiak talked about what Taylor has been doing on the practice field that has set him apart from his orange and blue brethren.
“Jordan has been impressive for a young player,” Kubiak said. “He has a long body and he has a long stride. He can really run. He's got a big catch radius. I think you guys who have been watching practice would agree that through OTAs he was an impressive player. It's going to be important to see how he does.”
Taylor will have to continue to build momentum throughout training camp and also prove his value on special teams, if he hopes to make the final 53-man roster. Some of the guys he’s competing with have either established themselves already with the Broncos, or elsewhere in the NFL.
Fowler went undrafted in 2014 and although he didn’t make the final roster, he was kept on the practice squad. He has a year with the organization under his belt, plus a budding rapport with fourth-year quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Entering his fourth year with the Broncos, Caldwell was signed as a free agent veteran in 2012 and has found a way to stick around. Patton is an explosive slot-receiver, with a developed skill-set as a punt returner. Norwood is a similar player as Patton and was on the brink of making the Broncos final roster last year, before an ACL tear ended his season.
Jordan Taylor still faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot but so far, he’s off to a great start.
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