Draft Sleeper: Eric Taylor

Every April NFL teams and fans alike are looking for draft sleepers; unnoticed prospects who fly under the radar screen. One of the least mentioned prospects moving up draft boards is Memphis defensive tackle Eric Taylor. As we follow Taylor's journey towards its' final destination here is a recent conversation with the big lineman.

DL Eric Taylor University of Memphis

Height: 6'3
Weight: 310
Hometown: Winchester, TN
High School: Franklin County
Eric Taylor lettered four consecutive seasons for the Tigers, and he is considered a hidden gem for the upcoming NFL draft in April.  Taylor anchored the defensive line for the Tigers in '03 and finished with a career best 76 total tackles and tied for the team lead with 6 sacks.
Q: What was it like playing for Joe Lee Dunn and did he help him become a better player?
A: It was great playing under Coach Dunn, he was the type of coach that allowed me to use my strengths as a player.  I think I got better every year I played in college, I think most of my improvements were because I was able to play under Coach Dunn this past season. 

Q: What's it like having a defensive mind as a head coach?
A: Having a defensive minded head coach was a good thing for the team as a whole. Personally, it made me as a player take pride in getting better every time I touched the field, because I knew defense was a big part of  the team's success. 

Q:  How does it feel getting attention from NFL scouts after flying under the radar for a while?
A: I have always approached the entire situation with confidence, I've never questioned whether I was good enough to play in the NFL.  I've been working hard since the season ended, and now that teams are calling it motivates me even more to continue working hard.  I've already had a private workout with the N.Y. Jets and I even received a call on my cell from a scout from the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Even though my name is out now, I'm still looking forward to showing teams what type of athlete I am at our pro day March 29th.
Q: Where have you been training and how do you feel you have benefited from it?

A: I have been training in Memphis with Dean Lotz.  Dean's one of the best kept secrets in the business.  Last year when Wade Smith started with Dean he was 274 pounds and he weighed in at the combine at 296.  Wade even ran the 40 in 5.1 at the combine, and he wound up being drafted in the 3rd round by the Miami Dolphins and starting all season at left tackle.  I've benefited training with Dean in many ways, but one of the most important things is that  I've clearly become more flexible, and the weight I carry is much more positive weight than before.

Q: What is your favorite part of training?
A: I've always enjoyed working out and training with Dean Lotz has brought the way I feel about training to another level.  I've enjoyed getting to know the other guys I've been working hard with like Mark Pera from Auburn and Leonard Burress from Kentucky.  I'd have to say the best part is seeing my numbers improve every Saturday when Dean puts us through the combine drills.

Q: What are your strengths?
A: Versatility is my biggest strength.  I am defensive lineman that can rush the passer and play the run, I think being able to play the 1,3, and 5 techniques shows my versatility.  I take pride in being a leader on the field by example.

Q: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
A: I need to work on using my hands more consistently.  That is an area we focus on during our second session every afternoon. 

Q: Who is the toughest blocker you've gone up against?
A: Fred Weary [Tennessee] is the best blocker I've gone against because he was such an all-around offensive lineman.  He's playing in the NFL now.

Q: What was it like going to a bowl game after years at the bottom of C-USA?
A: It's a great feeling knowing I was part of the senior class that helped lead Memphis to a bowl game for the first time in 32 years.  It really felt good seeing the way the city got behind us and supported us.  I think the program is on the right track under Coach West and I think it's going to continue to improve every year. 

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