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90-Man Roster: Can Devin Taylor Add To The Pass Rush?

He is coming off disappointing season in Detroit

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Devin Taylor (left) with Jay Bromley during mandatory mini-camp.
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Vernon played an extraordinary numbers of defensive snaps for the New York Giants, as his 1,049 snaps accounted for 93.69 percent. Jason Pierre-Paul did as well, playing 88.8 percent or more of the snaps in every game before he got hurt.

As we have discussed several times, most recently in a ‘Summer School’ piece about defensive line rotations, the Giants really need to lessen the reliance on their dynamic duo of defensive ends. For the long-term good of the players, and the defense as a whole.

With that in mind, there are those who clamor for the Giants to sign a big-name player like Dwight Freeney or Mario Williams to be a veteran pass-rush specialist.

Is it possible, though, that the veteran pass rusher who could fill that need was already added when the Giants signed Devin Taylor, formerly of the Detroit Lions, to a cheap one-year, $815K contract?

Let’s take a closer look at Taylor as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

2016 Season In Review

Taylor had a terrible season in Detroit, which is likely why he was available at a bargain-basement price late in free agency. Given a chance to start for the first time in his four-year career and counted on with Ziggy Ansah injured to be the Lions’ best pass rusher, Taylor flopped. He had just 4.5 sacks and was ranked No. 108 of 109 qualifying defensive ends by Pro Football Focus.

The reviews of his work by those who covered the Lions weren’t kind. Like this:

Devin Taylor entered the final year of his rookie contract in the kind of place many young players aspire to be. He was emerging as a pass rusher, a player who registered 7.5 the previous year despite not starting a game. He was in a full-time role now, eager to prove in a crucial season that he could be a player a new front office would want to keep around. ...

Instead, Taylor seemed to step backward. As one of the healthiest players on the club, starting all 16 games, Taylor managed just 4.5 sacks, and even that number seems to overstate his contributions. His pressures were woefully inconsistent and at times nonexistent. Instead of blossoming into the powerful defensive end the Lions were looking for, he looked more like a stiff player whose value lived almost solely in run support.

2017 Season Outlook

Taylor is a 6-foot-7, 266-pound player with impressive measurables, which we should know by now is something that always appeals to the Giants.

Taylor thrived for Detroit a a pass rusher in 2015, when he didn’t have to be the primary guy. Ansah had 14 sacks and Taylor played a complementary role, adding seven while not starting a game.

From PFF, here are Taylor’s pass-rushing stats for the past two seasons:

  • 2016: 4.5 sacks (official NFL number), 5 hits, 23 hurries - 6.5 pass rush productivity - 41/53 4-3 DEs
  • 2015: 7 sacks (official NFL number), 4 hits, 23 hurries - 8.3 pass rush productivity - 25/51 4-3 DEs

Those numbers might indicate that Taylor is better suited to be a complementary player rather than the focal point of a pass rush. That complementary role is what the Giants signed him for. If he can have an impact for the Giants in that capacity the Taylor signing could end up looked at as a nice under-the-radar move by the Giants.

Devin Taylor Stats

2013 DET 14 14 9 5 2.5 2 1 2
2014 DET 16 15 11 4 1 0 0 2
2015 DET 15 35 28 7 7 1 1 17
2016 DET 16 28 21 7 4.5 1 1 10