ESPN’s Mike Sando recently spoke to “four NFL personnel evaluators” and asked them for their “favorite steals in each of the seven rounds” of the 2017 NFL Draft. Sando highlights that, in two instances, he had evaluators for different teams point to the same late-round selection as the steal of the draft - and the Miami Dolphins picked one of those “steals.”
Of course, these four personnel evaluators are grading these steals based on their own prospect grades, and we will not know for sure how any of these picks turn out for at least a couple of years. That said, it is fun to get a look at what other teams may have thought of the Dolphins’ “steal” of Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor in the sixth-round:
The first two evaluators reside hundreds of miles apart, but their ballots are coming into alignment across these later rounds. Both had McNichols as their guy in the fifth, and both also had Taylor as their best value in the sixth. They liked Taylor's size, athleticism and versatility. They said it's often tougher to find versatile defensive linemen this late in the draft.
"I thought he was a guy you'd typically get in the third or fourth round, like a Mike Daniels from Green Bay, a very good player who plays all over the line and was a fourth-rounder," one of the evaluators said. "Normally, this late in the draft, you find a straight nose tackle. Taylor can play nose and 3-technique. He will be a backup, a role player, but where Miami got him and what they will use him for and what he could become, he is a good value."
One of the two evaluators listing Taylor on his ballot also mentioned Brad Kaaya, the Miami quarterback taken 215th overall by the Detroit Lions. The fourth evaluator listed Kaaya as his choice for the sixth round, noting that the quarterback would fare better in a pro system.
"Kaaya wants to be good and he has some tools," this evaluator said.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive linemen Elijah Qualls and Detroit Lions quarterback Kaaya were both listed as “also receiving votes” for the sixth round.
Taylor was the second defensive tackle selected by the Dolphins, who also used a fifth-round pick to add LSU’s Davon Godchaux. Both players are expected to rotate into the defensive line, allowing the team to rest Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips as needed throughout a game.
Taylor was projected by CBS Sports as a third- to fourth-round pick while NFL.com had him listed as a sixth-round selection, so there were varying grades for the Oklahoma State defensive tackle. It sounds like, according to these evaluators, however, that some front office personnel really liked Taylor more than as a sixth-round selection. He does appear to have the ability to play both as a 4-3 defensive tackle as well as sliding inside to play a nose tackle type of position as the Dolphins look to move around the defensive front and create mismatches for Suh, Phillips, Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, William Hayes, and Charles Harris.
Taylor comes to the league with nearly the exact same size as Suh. Can he learn from the Pro Bowler as he works to develop at the NFL level? Whatever the ultimate outcome of Taylor’s career, it appears at least some evaluators think the Dolphins did well in adding him in the sixth round.