Jonathan Taylor has a chance to have one of the most successful seasons out of any of the NFL rookies in 2020. Taylor was an incredible running back, and one of the best in the entire country, throughout his career at Wisconsin. Now, Taylor is on the Indianapolis Colts, who have one of the best offensive lines in football. Recently, the Colts made a $50 million move that can ultimately help Taylor tremendously over the next few years. In fact, it has a chance to make him one of the best backs in the entire NFL.
Jonathan Taylor was an incredible running back for the Wisconsin Badgers
From the time he was a freshman, Taylor was one of the best running backs in all of college football. In 2017, he ran for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns. His play helped him earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors, and the Badgers went 13-1 and won the Orange Bowl.
During the 2018 season, Taylor continued to completely dominate. He ran for 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns, which helped him win the Doak Walker Award, and become a Consensus All-American.
Taylor then had another 2,000-yard rushing season in 2019 as he ran for 2,003 yards for the Badgers to go with 21 touchdowns. Taylor was a Consensus All-American again, and the Badgers went to the Rose Bowl.
In total for his career, Taylor ran for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns as he was the first player in FBS history to run for 6,000 yards in three seasons, according to the Wisconsin team site.
The Indianapolis Colts signed Ryan Kelly to a $50 million deal
The Indianapolis Colts have the best offensive line in football. Pro Football Focus ranked the 32 offensive lines in the NFL heading into the 2020 season, and the Colts’ line ranked No. 1 overall.
The Colts are led by: Quenton Nelson, one of the best guards in the entire NFL; Anthony Castonzo, who PFF ranked in the top 16 last season in both run and pass blocking; Braden Smith, who ranked ninth among tackles in 2019; Mark Glowinski, and center Ryan Kelly, who PFF ranked eighth at his position last season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sept. 3 that the Colts signed Kelly to a four-year, $50 million extension. The deal ties him to Indy for the next five seasons.
“Feels good to be rewarded,” Kelly said, according to ESPN. “I want to live up to the contract I signed. Go out every single day, be the leader on the offensive line they I know I can be. Play with the consistency I can play with and stay healthy. Those are the things that drive me every single day.”
The deal makes Kelly the highest-paid center in the league and gives Jonathan Taylor protection for years to come.
Taylor has a chance to become one of the best running backs in the NFL
Now that the anchor of the Colts’ offensive line is set to be on the team for the next five years, Taylor has a chance to become one of the best running backs in the NFL.
Some of the best running backs also have great offensive lines. PFF ranks the Dallas Cowboys as the third-best offensive line in the NFL. The Cowboys, of course, have Ezekiel Elliott, who has led the NFL in rushing in two of his four seasons in the league. Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens’ line ranks fifth on PFF’s list, and they had two 1,000-yard rushers in 2019 in Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram.
Of course, some running backs can have success without great lines — Saquon Barkley ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. However, can you imagine how many more yards he could have gained had the Colts’ offensive been blocking for him?
So, since Taylor has already proven that he has a ton of talent, and since he has an excellent offensive that now has its center locked up for years, he has a chance to become a great NFL running back this season and beyond.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference