Prospect of the Week: Taylor Jacobs
Coming into the campaign Taylor Jacobs was either behind or sandwiched between Lee Evans of Wisconsin and Fresno State's Bernard Berrian on most pre-season scouting sheets. Berrian has since decided to red-shirt after injuring his knee in August and Evans' season is still up after the same joint was surgically repaired last May. Hence Jacobs is now justifiably the top senior wide out and proving himself worthy of that number one spot.
Jacobs is well ahead of any other pass catcher in the SEC, a league known for dominant receivers, in just about every category; total receptions, receptions per game as well as receiving yards and touchdown catches. In seven games he's caught 46 passes, averaging 17.3 yards per grab with nine scores. In what has been a difficult season for the Gators, Jacobs easily established himself as Rex Grossman's number one target from the first game, which comes as no surprise to anyone. After sitting on the two-deep behind the likes of Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell, Jacobs previously displayed big time potential when placed on the field before finally grabbing the spotlight when given a starting role. Case in point last year's Orange Bowl; when afforded the opportunity to see extensive action in what was only his third start of the 2001 season, all Jacobs did was break the record for receiving yards in the January Classic just five minutes into the third quarter!
A tremendous athlete with great body control, Jacobs easily adjusts to the oncoming pass, making the reception in contorted positions with opponents draped all over him. He redirects to the errant throw in midair or when running full tilt, gets up in a crowd for the difficult catch or extends and lays out to make the tough grab over the middle. His focus and concentration are extraordinary and he plays with solid receiving fundamentals, extending and looking the pass into his hands, then catching the ball away from his frame. Jacobs finds the open spot on the field and is always trying to make himself an available target for the quarterback. On top of that he is known as a hard worker both on and off the field.
What stands out about Jacobs are his natural receiving skills, feel for the position and overall football awareness; uncanny for a player that only saw spot duty until his senior season.
A champion sprinter in both high school and college, Taylor shows the ability to take it deep on occasion but does not always translate his blistering track speed onto the football field nor is he a wide out purposely given a big cushion at the line of scrimmage by opponents.
There is a lot to like about Taylor Jacobs most notably his game and potential. Florida receivers have been given a bad rap as many enter the NFL with high expectations but fall short of meeting them by the standards of others. Sometimes it is justified while other times it is not.
The expectations for Jacobs may not be that great; there could be as many as four underclassmen drafted before his name is called with the slight possibility of one upperclassmen, Lee Evans, being taken for him. In the end it could all work in Jacobs favor as he may slip through the cracks into the second frame next April then turn into a "diamond in the rough" or a "bargain" and "value" pick that immediately starts at the next level, has a productive rookie campaign then goes on to a very solid career in the NFL. All photos in this story courtesy of Getty Images