“Everything went well except for the 40,” he said. “I’ve never been a really fast guy but still didn’t do as well as I planned to do. I think I let the nerves get the best of me.”
The former Virginia Tech linebacker clocked a 5.01-second time in the 40, slowest of the linebackers who participated. Putting it in perspective, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, another guy who plays in the inside, ran a 4.82, which was deemed to be slow.
For a player with a history of injuries, including the Lisfranc problem his junior year, there were always going to be questions as to whether Taylor regained all of his speed coming back, certainly something that will affect his draft stock (he’s projected as a late-round pick.)
Still, he knows 40 times don’t define a football player. New England Patriots starting linebacker Brandon Spikes, for instance, ran a 5.05-second 40 time at the combine three years ago. Tech fans surely remember receiver Jarrett Boykin, who made an NFL roster despite a sub-par 40 time.
“I think guys put too much focus on it, because everybody wants to run fast,” Taylor said. ‘And as we’ve seen in the past, fast guys raise their stock tremendously by running a quick 40.
“I mean, I don’t know how much the 40 says about your football-playing ability. You’ve still got to go be able to line up and do different things other than run the 40. But it’s cool. I know many guys who haven’t run great 40s and turned out to be great players. It is what it is. Teams know what I can do on the field, so I’m not really worried about it.”
Taylor thinks he did well in the other parts of the combine. Houston Texans cornerback Roc Carmichael, a fourth-round pick in 2011, gave Taylor an idea of what to expect in Indy, including the interview sessions, when teams pick a player’s brain about schematic questions.
“I excelled there,” Taylor said. “That’s what I do. I’m an X and O’s guy. I’m not a 40 guy. I’m a football player.”
In the next few weeks, he’ll continue to train for Virginia Tech’s March 20 pro day, where he hopes to run a much better 40 time to alleviate any teams’ concerns. His aim is in the 4.7 range.
“That’s something that I’ve been able to do,” he said. “Just getting down to that number. Anything close to that.”