Is Taylor Canton-Bound?

Saturday was a special day in Canton, Ohio, as the NFL held its Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. The Jaguars, being an expansion franchise that began play in 1995, obviously don't yet have any hall of famers, but who will be the first? Number 28 perhaps? We discuss Taylor's candidacy and the likeliness of Mr. Jaguar ever making the induction speech.

At this point in his career, Fred Taylor has a pretty strong case for induction to Canton. In his 10 years of service, Taylor has rushed for 10,715 yards in the regular season which ranks him 17th all-time. With a few more solid seasons, Taylor can drastically move up the list. Fred ranks eighth all-time in rushing yards per game, at 84.4, and tenth in yards from scrimmage per game at 102.2. The explosive Taylor is fourth all-time with 13 rushes of 50 or more yards, and is fifth in NFL history with 311 rushes of 10 or more yards.

Fred Taylor has suffered several injuries early on in his career, and he was dubbed with the unflattering nickname, "Fragile Fred." The 2001 season, in which he missed 14 games, Taylor tore the groin muscle off his bone. I would be willing to bet that no running back in NFL history could endure that type of injury and play a single game in that same season. Nonetheless, Taylor has missed 33 games in his illustrious career, and if he were healthy throughout that time, the Hall of Fame would likely be a given.

Although Fred is affectionately known as Mr. Jaguar in north Florida, he is not completely a household name around the country. Part of that is due to the small market he plays in, and part of it is due to a lack of postseason appearances, as he suffered through the Jaguars five-year playoff drought from 2000-2004.

We asked Sirius NFL Radio host and NFL Expert Adam Caplan if he thought Freddy T. was a hall of famer—

"I wouldn't put Taylor in the class of making the Hall of Fame but he has been a very solid and consistent performer over the years.

"Taylor, at 32, probably can still play at a high level for a few more seasons because he has found a better way of taking care of himself than he did much earlier in his career when he went through a series of injuries.

"I'd put him in the group of the players that just miss the Hall of Fame but will be remembered for having a solid career."

If Taylor can indeed play a couple more seasons and be productive, he can push his rushing total up to around 13,000 yards, and that would currently put him seventh on the all-time list. That likely would not make Taylor a no-doubt first-ballot hall of famer, but it would help his case greatly. Sportswriter John Clayton of ESPN had this to say about Taylor's candidacy—

"Fred Taylor's 10,715 career rushing yards put him on the radar, but the Jacksonville Jaguars standout's lone trip to the Pro Bowl means he really needs to make the most of his remaining seasons. He might need back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons to put his bid over the top."

The problem that Taylor currently has in terms of all-time recognition is that he has yet to have a defining postseason moment. Without career stats that are above and beyond anyone else, Taylor needs a big moment that will put him in infamy. The best example of Fred's lack of national recognition is his one and only Pro Bowl appearance in 2007, as he was chosen originally as an alternate, but earned the trip when Pittsburgh's Willie Parker broke his leg late in the season.

The hourglass may be running low on sand for Taylor, as he hinted earlier in the offseason that he is looking to play for just two more seasons.

"I'm going to have a better season," said Taylor. "I'm on a mission. I'm just trying to catch Jim Brown and then we'll close the curtains."

Taylor elaborated about his future—

"I can play as long as I want. I really believe that. But I'm not going to play as long as I want. I watch these older players walk around. I don't want to walk around like Shack Harris. I want to enjoy my family and my kids. There's going to be an end one day. I want to honor my contract but that would be in a perfect world. Twelve years would be ideal."

So is Fred Taylor a Hall of Famer right now? Definitively-- not yet. Taylor is one of the most explosive running backs ever to strap on the pads, but not enough people around the country are aware of that. Fred simply needs to do more. If he played in New York or Chicago or Dallas, he may have the goods already, but he doesn't play there, and he needs a defining postseason moment. The good news is that Taylor appears to be in fantastic shape, and if the wheels don't fall off what appears to be a very strong team, Taylor will get his shot for some stardom in January, or possibly even February.

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