Devin Taylor learning to use size to his advantage

Posted May 30, 2014

It’s Devin Taylor’s size, reach and speed that make him an interesting player to keep an eye on this year.

There aren’t too many 6-foot-7 defensive ends with 36-inch arms roaming the NFL.

It’s Devin Taylor’s size, reach and speed that make him an interesting player to keep an eye on this year.

Devin TaylorDE Devin Taylor (Photo: Detroit Lions)

A fourth round pick by the Detroit Lions last year, Taylor started the year low on the depth chart before he became the fourth end after starter Jason Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 against Washington.

Taylor eased into his role and eventually became No. 3 on the depth chart behind Ziggy Ansah and Willie Young by season's end. He made two starts in November when Ansah was out with an ankle injury.

Taylor made a few flash plays -- 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles -- but both he and the Lions are hoping for much more impact in year two.

In order for that to happen, though, Taylor had to get better hands, which brings us back to his size and arm length.

The Lions are drilling his hand work every day this spring in an effort to extend those arms and use that reach to his advantage. Too many times last year Taylor was engaging blockers too close to his body, negating his reach and ultimately his leverage.

So what was the focus for Taylor this offseason?

“Just using my hands more,” he said. “Being able to extend from the blocker and getting off blocks and stuff and making more plays.”

Essentially using his height to his advantage.

The Lions are playing an open- and closed-end scheme this year and have a specific need for players like Taylor with his size and versatility. He could have a bigger role this year as an inside rusher.

Taylor said he toned up his upper body this offseason and is in much better shape, which is expected of any player after NFL strength trainers get a hold of them.

With Young no longer on the team (signed with Chicago), Taylor enters the year as the first reserve behind Ansah and Jones, but free-agent signee Darryl Tapp and fourth-round pick Larry Webster are competing for playing time too.

Taylor has all the tools to be an important contributor in 2014, it’s just a matter of using them to his advantage.