The Browns need defensive linemen, and Baylor NT Phil Taylor will be counted on to be a key part of their transition to a 4-3 front. The team traded up from No. 27 to No. 21 to select Taylor, surrendering a third-round selection in the process. He could be an immediate starter in the middle of the line next to Ahtyba Rubin, a productive, strong, high-effort player who comes off his finest season.
The 6-3¼, 334-pound Taylor does not lack for upside. In PFW's 2011 Draft Preview, personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki noted that Taylor has "a unique combination of strength and athletic ability." Taylor, Nawrocki wrote, "has drawn comparisons to Pat Williams."
Williams has had a long, productive career; if Taylor can play to that level, the Browns will be quite pleased — and rather tough to run on up the middle.
The downside risk with Taylor, however, is considerable. Taylor, Nawrocki wrote, is "(not) a worker and does not like to practice." Also, Taylor has had issues managing his weight, according to Nawrocki.
Taylor's collegiate career didn't start smoothly. He was suspended from Penn State's team in February 2008, then elected to transfer. But that setback didn't hold him back from becoming a first-round pick, and if he plays to his potential, the Browns' defensive line will be stouter. Working with Rubin, who has made himself into an above-average starter, should benefit him.