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Film review: Jawaan Taylor brings elite pass protection ability

Heading straight to the tape to get to know the newest Chiefs offensive lineman.

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NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The first domino of the offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs has fallen.

On Monday, the Chiefs agreed to a four-year deal with Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor. While he’s played right tackle for most of his career, it was reported by NFL Network’s James Palmer that the Chiefs intend to move Taylor to left tackle.

Taylor, 25, is one of the premier pass protectors in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor allowed five sacks in 2022 but only 21 pressures overall. Jacksonville put Taylor on an island against many elite pass rushers, but he held up well statistically.

Film Review

When you turn on Taylor’s film, the first thing that stands out is how well he gets out of his stance. Similar to former Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, Taylor’s primary pass set is a vertical pass set where he’s on an island. Taylor’s kick-slide is the foundation of his game.

He’s explosive out of his stance, mirroring the footwork of pass rushers to prevent them from rushing around the corner.

Taylor held up well against Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby. On this play, Taylor gets out of his stance to match Crosby, keeping his hips closed to absorb the rusher’s power. Once Crosby reads this and decides to go around the corner, Taylor opens his hips, tracks Crosby’s inside shoulder with his hands and washes him out of the play entirely.

Taylor might not be a hulking tackle, but he has plenty of functional strength. Part of it revolves around his length, but a huge part of his strength comes through his technique. Since he can keep his hips closed, that makes it easier for Taylor to absorb power and drop his anchor.

On this rep, he’s taking on Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, and he takes on this bullrush to perfection. He uses another vertical set to mirror Bosa, but when Bosa flashes the hands to bullrush, Taylor resets his feet with two hops, dropping his hips and inside foot to establish his anchor. This is the perfect technique for taking on a bullrush, and Bosa has no chance of moving Taylor after he sets his anchor.

A minor detail with Taylor’s game is how well he handles different stunts and pressures. On most of Taylor’s pass sets, he uses a “drag hand” — where you keep your inside hand available to help take on stunts and pass off defensive linemen. By using that drag hand, no defensive linemen can split the guard or tackle upfield and create quick pressure.

Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. did an excellent job picking up stunts with left guard Joe Thuney, and Taylor should have no issues picking that aspect up for the Chiefs.

The one issue in Taylor’s game is his run blocking. Taylor has length, but he’s on the lighter side for tackles and doesn’t have elite power in his run blocking. Still, I don’t feel he’s incompetent there. Taylor might not have elite run-blocking highlights, but he does the job.

On this rep, he’s reaching a 5-technique (who is lined up outside the offensive tackle) and is able to widen him enough to open a lane for the running back. Schwartz wasn’t a powerful run blocker, either, but his technique and IQ showed up in the run game. I would say Taylor is similar. He has a different approach to run blocking than most tackles, but I think with more time, he can develop into a solid run blocker.

The bottom line

It’s hard to project Taylor’s fit at left tackle since he’s never played there in the NFL. Some guys transition better than others. It’s a case-by-case basis, but I feel comfortable saying Taylor can do it. It may take him time, but with how strong his technique and athleticism are, I think he’ll be able to pick it up. It might look rough for a few weeks, but throughout the season, I expect him to have all the kinks ironed out.

Even if the Chiefs address left tackle again in the offseason, Taylor’s an elite right tackle. His pass protection is top-notch, and he held up against elite pass rushers like Crosby and Bosa all year. Yes, he was expensive to bring in, but if I’m paying a tackle in free agency, I better be able to trust him on an island.

I would trust Taylor against anyone in the NFL in a one-on-one matchup. His contract could be a bargain if he can work at left tackle. But even if he has to play right tackle long-term, I feel comfortable saying he’s a massive upgrade over former Chiefs right tackle Andrew Wylie.

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