2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Greg Taplin

Michigan State defensive end Greg Taplin seemed to put it all together his senior season. After several seasons where Taplin played a stay at home style game, he burst onto the national scene as a pass rusher during his final campaign. The credit, says Taplin, goes to defensive line coach Steve Stripling.

Greg Taplin points to the coaching staff during his senior season for bringing the game of football together for him.

"We got a new coaching staff that came with a new defensive line coach and with that came a new strategy. This year was more about rushing the passer and I felt I was assured of that coming into Michigan State. The defensive line coach we had in the past didn't really recommend the defensive end doing that, so I had to play within the gameplan.

"It came together this year for me."

That is an understatement. After posting a career high 38 tackles and two sacks as a junior, Taplin exploded onto the scene in '03 too the tune of 10 sacks, 46 tackles and 14 tackles for a loss.

What about the missed opportunities from the old regimen? Will that hurt his draft potential in the end?

"It might hurt me, it might not," says Taplin.

From the list of teams scouting Taplin, it does not appear to be hurting him at all.

"Teams that need rush defensive ends, pass rush defensive ends (were looking at me)," said Taplin. "I met with the Patriots, the Redskins, I just met with the Cleveland Browns at the University of Miami, met with Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and a few other teams looking for a defensive end, outside linebacker type.

"I met with Butch Davis and Dave Campo – just talking with different coaches and getting better acquainted with them."

Since the offseason, he has been a nonstop motor, similar to his on the field play. He played in the GridIron Classic, where Mark Pera, in his draft diary on TFY Draft Preview, said Taplin was the toughest man he had to go up against all week in preparation for the game.

Then came the combines where Taplin says he "did pretty good." His forty time was a tad slow, in the 4.9 range he says, but he quickly countered that he would get another chance to run at his Pro Day on March 23rd.

Now that the combines are over, the work has just begun. Taplin is still trying to add a little weight to his 6-5 frame, while maintaining his quickness.

"I weighed in at the combines at 267 pounds and played at 260. I still feel light on my feet and quick as a cat."

He is working out at both outside linebacker and his regular end position as he nears his Pro Day. There is no telling what an NFL coach will ask and his dish is best served when well prepared.

"I played a little linebacker," said Taplin. "At my position, split defensive end, I stood up a lot so I was doing a lot of zone pressure. It was a 4-3 defense. We ran a 3-4 in high school, but I have not done that in years. Right now the 4-3 fits me."

Taplin had one interception in '03, which he returned for a touchdown. He also added six passes defensed playing in his zone scheme, showing his versatility as both a rushing defensive end and ability to drop off the line or get his hands up and bat down passes when he could not get close enough to sack the quarterback.

This late bloomer may have been suffocated by the limitations his former coaches at MSU put on him, but he is not lying down now. The signs are easily spotted in the teams scouting him…and it is only mid-March.


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