In recent years, former New York Giants great and current radio analyst Carl Banks has talked often about too many Giants draft picks being "on scholarship," meaning they knew their roster spot was protected by the front office whether they performed well or not. Banks did so again last week during an appearance with Pat Traina and myself on the "Big Bue Chat" podcast.
Perhaps safety Cooper Taylor, entering his fourth season, is the perfect test case for whether or not those "scholarships" still exist with the Giants. The 2013 fifth-round pick has basically done nothing since becoming a Giant. He has dressed for 16 games, made eight tackles and finished all three of his NFL seasons on IR, including the entire 2014 season.
How many chances does one player get with one NFL team to turn athletic potential into something resembling NFL production? Taylor is on his fourth chance now, and he is 0-for-3. Let's take a closer look at Taylor as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2015 Season in Review
Taylor began spring practices working with the first team defense. By the end of training camp, despite injuries to Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson and Justin Currie, Taylor was an afterthought, buried on the bench. The Giants paired veteran has-beens Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl with Landon Collins rather than give Taylor an opportunity.
Taylor got cut in October, added to the practice squad in early November and brought back to the active roster in late November due to injuries to other players. He finally began to see some playing time in Week 12 vs. the New York Jets, but suffered a season-ending concussion Week 14 vs. the Carolina Panthers. The 49 defensive snaps he ended up playing were the most in his three seasons. He played five defensive snaps as a rookie in 2013, then missed the 2014 season with a foot injury.
2016 Season Outlook
Collins, Berhe, third-round pick Darian Thompson, Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson would all seem to be ahead of Taylor in the safety pecking order. Taylor's case to stick around wasn't helped by the fact that he missed spring practices with a sports hernia.
Taylor is probably going to have to play spectacularly in the preseason to earn a job. Either that, or outlast other injured safeties in a war of attrition.
The view here, quite honestly is that Taylor has had his chance. It's time to revoke his scholarship and give others a chance.