Taylor made for Steelers defense

Perhaps it's fitting that Eric Taylor majored in criminology at Memphis University. <br><br> Taylor was such a good player for the Tigers, it's a crime he didn't get more notice.

A seventh-round draft choice of the Steelers, Taylor was a do-everything defensive end for the Tigers. The 6-3, 302-pounder was versatile enough to play inside or outside in Memphis' unique 3-3-5 defense that employed a three-man line just as the Steelers do.

Add in the fact Taylor was extremely productive, recording 150 tackles, 21 of which went for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, an interception and 12 pass deflections and you have to wonder how he possibly could have lasted until the seventh round.

Taylor, for one, certainly was puzzled.

"I was expecting to get drafted, but I also got kind of nervous (as the draft went on)," Taylor said. "But more and more calls started to come and I'm glad it ended up the way it did."

That's because Taylor could be a perfect fit for the Steelers defense.

He has the bulk to play the nose tackle position, but the speed - he runs the 40 in 4.89 seconds - and pass-rushing ability to move outside and be an effective end.

"He'll be an end that can play nose tackle," said Steelers head coach Bill Cowher of Taylor. "We think he can play end. We think he's a guy who's on the way up. He can play a couple of positions. He's a good, young player, bright, smart."

Taylor will be in the mix of players trying to replace trying to replace Rodney Bailey, who signed with New England as a restricted free agent.

The team signed veteran Travis Kirschke, a starter last season in San Francisco, while Chris Hoke and Kendrick Clancy were re-signed by the team. Third-year player Brett Keisel also returns after missing the 2003 season with a shoulder injury, but is strictly a defensive end.

But the team may try to keep an extra defensive lineman on the roster this season because Kimo von Oelhoffen is 33 years old. Even though von Oelhoffen is coming off a career year, the Steelers know he could go downhill at any time and they want a replacement already on the roster when that happens.

Taylor hopes to be that man.

"I feel like wherever they need me, I can contribute and adapt to what they need me to do," Taylor said.

"Wherever they need me to play, I can play there. I feel comfortable playing any position on the line of scrimmage."

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