First, it should be stated that this is the most difficult time of year to sort the real news from the BS. Its the part of the NFL calendar with the least actual news which leaves the 24/7/365 NFL media scrambling to generate narratives and storylines that can generate clicks. I present you with Exhibit A:
Brock Osweiler has impressed. One Browns player privately predicted he "wouldn't be surprised if Brock is QB1 heading into camp in July."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 7, 2017
How low are the expectations for QB play among Browns players?
You also see predictable, team generated tropes about players who are “in the best shape of their career” or “spending more time in the film room” or, my personal favorite “fixing their atrocious throwing motion”.
OOOOOOOOOOOK, sure you did Blake. Just like you did all these other times.
I point these things out for two reasons. First, its really fun to laugh at Osweiler and Bortles, but also because its important to take things with a grain of salt this time of year.
That being said, I think its worth pointing out that Jayon Brown and Taywan Taylor have been getting a ton of love from the coaching staff and some teammates during OTAs up to this point. These are the two players that the Titans traded up to take in the draft a few months ago and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Mike Keith asked Brian Orakpo who was catching his eye among the front 7 and Orakpo’s first words were “I like Jayon”. He went on to say that his coverage skills really have stood out and that he is going toe to toe with Delanie Walker in coverage.
Mularkey went out of his way to mention Brown during his press conference on the first day of Phase 2 OTAs and how he could have an important role on this defense. The comments on Brown have all been in praise of his speed and coverage abilities. The scouting report on Brown coming out of UCLA pegged those two areas as his primary strengths so that shouldn’t be a surprise, but the amount of praise has my attention at this point. Granted, a coverage linebacker should look good in 7-on-7’s and shorts, but if he can keep this up when the pads come on in camp we could be seeing a lot of him on Sundays this fall.
The other guy who seems to be dominating the “who has stood out at OTAs” conversation is Taywan Taylor. Jim Wyatt provided some good quotes about Taylor’s early impact here. Terry Robiskie has praised both Davis and Taylor for studying and “taking their iPads home” which is a very good thing since we all know how important it is to the Titans staff to have receivers who are reliable when it comes to running the right routes and generally knowing what they are doing on a football field. (Looking at you DGB)
Wyatt had some praise for Taylor himself during the first week of OTAs:
Taylor, outfitted in Kendall Wright old number (13), got my attention this week. I liked the way he went up and got the ball in practices, with defenders in the vicinity. He made a really impressive catch on a deep ball from Mariota during one session.
More praise from Wyatt:
I feel like I’m always writing about Taywan Taylor, and maybe it’s because the receiver from Western Kentucky is always making plays. Taylor has put together two really nice weeks in OTAs, and he looks very comfortable for a rookie.
If this reminds you of how people talked about Tajae Sharpe this time last year, it should.
And that’s a good thing. No, Sharpe didn’t come out and light the NFL on fire last season, but he did open the season as a starter and put up over 500 yards which is pretty darn good for a 5th round receiver out of UMass.
It’s worth keeping an eye on these two as training camp approaches.