Can Cooper Taylor Give The Giants Secondary A Boost?
In the fifth round of this year's NFL draft, the Giants opted to bolster their defensive backfield by selecting Cooper Taylor, a safety from the University of Richmond. Taylor, who transferred to Richmond from Georgia Tech after his junior season, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome during his freshman year at Georgia Tech, and feared that his football career may be over before it even really began. However, doctors were able to treat his condition, and Taylor finished his college career with two successful seasons in Richmond.
Now, he's just months away from making his NFL debut, and with the help that the Giants need in their secondary, don't be too surprised if Taylor has an immediate impact on the team and is looked upon to contribute right away. With the Giants losing Kenny Phillips in the offseason to the division rival Eagles, the team was down one safety before selecting Taylor. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been known to use a lot of three-safety looks in his defensive schemes, and last season he used Kenny Phillips (when he was healthy), Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle to create a sort of three-headed monster in the defensive backfield that served as a safety umbrella for when Corey Webster or another cornerback inevitably got burned.
It's still too early to tell whether or not Fewell will throw the rookie Taylor into the mix and utilize him in the three-safety sets right off the bat, but Jerry Reese seems to think that he will. His size and speed make him a perfect fit, and he’ll be a great complement to the size and speed that already exists at the position with Rolle, Brown and the Giants offseason acquisition Ryan Mundy. At 6-foot-4, Taylor is the tallest safety currently on the Giants' roster, and can use that size to his advantage against some of the bigger, more physical wide receivers that the Giants face (reminder: Calvin Johnson is on the schedule for Week 16).
Another area of the team where Taylor can likely contribute right away is special teams, and with a 4.49 40-yard-dash time, he has the speed to get down the field in a hurry. I can see Taylor making an immediate impact on special teams, which should then eventually give way to him competing with Mundy, Will Hill and Tyler Sash for that third safety spot. In fact, with his size, it wouldn't even be out of the realm of possibility to drop him into an outside linebacker role on certain downs. We all know that the Giants can use all the help they can get at that position as well, and Coughlin even acknowledged this possibility when asked about Taylor's potential role earlier this month.
With training camp right around the corner, the picture will soon become clearer regarding the Giants' plans for the secondary this season. Chances are good that Taylor will be able to contribute to this Giants team in one way or another during the 2013 season, whether it's on special teams, in the secondary or wherever else his skill set allows him to fit in.