Giants' Roster Breakdown: Cooper Taylor, S

Cooper Taylor runs a blocked punt back for a touchdown last season vs. the Oakland Raiders - Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Can Cooper Taylor grow into larger role in 2014?

Much has been made in recent months about the failings of recent New York Giants' draft classes. In some cases, the Giants have missed on or had misfortune due to injuries with early-round picks. In other cases, they have taken some intriguing developmental players in the middle to late rounds who have not panned out.

One of the most intriguing players the Giants selected in the 2013 draft was Richmond safety Cooper Taylor, taken in the fifth round (152nd overall). Taylor is a massive player for a safety, 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, with the size to drop down and play as a hybrid linebacker in three-safety packages and the speed and range to play deep safety.

Will the flier the Giants took on this unusual safety pay off? Let's look at Taylor's progress as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp next week in East Rutherford, N.J.

2013 Season In Review

The 2013 season was a developmental one for Taylor, who was expected to spend the season learning and contributing primarily on special teams. Unfortunately, Taylor's development was slowed by a training camp leg injury, that cost him both practice and game time. He played in just 10 games and made only a cameo appearance on defense, playing just seven snaps. He did perform on special teams coverage units in eight games, making four tackles, missing one and scooping up a blocked punt and taking it in for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders.

2014 Season Outlook

Taylor is one of those hit-or-miss players whose ultimate success or failure could swing the perception of the quality of the Giants' 2013 draft. His unique size and skill set for the safety position offer intriguing possibilities, but there is still the reality that he might never develop into a full-time player.

Through OTAs and mini-camp it appeared Taylor had taken a step forward.

"He's a much bigger human being right now. He's worked hard in the offseason, he's stronger, he's bigger, he's in his second go-around so he has an excellent opportunity to contribute in a lot of ways," said head coach Tom Coughlin.

Taylor got some first-team reps during the spring as the Giants were careful to limit the snaps taken by Stevie Brown as he returns from missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL. Taylor does have an opportunity as free-agent signee Quintin Demps is the only experienced reserve behind Brown and Antrel Rolle.

"You definitely see the opportunity there," Taylor said during OTAs. "Hopefully I'll be able to make something out of it."

The Giants need some of their young players to step forward and become contributors. Will Taylor be up to the task?

"The sky’s the limit for this young man," safeties coach Dave Merritt said during mini-camp. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, but again Cooper is going to get his chance to shine on the field and in the preseason games, which is going to be really big."

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