2024 Bears Draft Target: Leonard Taylor III
Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Draft Target: Leonard Taylor III

by - Senior Writer -

Now that we are less than a month away from the NFL draft, things are about to get real for the Chicago Bears, as they have not one but two top-10 picks. What they do with those picks will determine the direction of their franchise, but many expect Caleb Williams to go No.1, with another offensive weapon slotted for the No. 9 spot.

However, you also have to consider the possibility of the Bears trading away that No. 9 pick, as teams will be desperate enough to make a move to perhaps land one of the remaining QBs. While that may not be ideal, trading back could land the Bears another first-round pick next season while also giving them more picks in this year's draft, which is all you can ask for in a rebuilding team.

One player the Bears could focus on should they trade back and add more picks is former Miami DT Leonard Taylor III. He is a perfect three-technique fit for Matt Eberflus's 4-3 defensive scheme. Adding beef in the trenches is crucial to dominating the line of scrimmage, and Taylor III would instantly help with that.

The big 6-3, 305-pound Taylor is the perfect size for a DT, and at just 21 years old, he is a younger prospect who you wouldn't have to play immediately. Taylor is coming off a season where he wasn't the most productive on the field, finishing with 19 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. A big reason for that was the overall struggles that the Hurricane defense went through because his overall body of work shows he is a much better player than that.

For his career, Taylor logged 64 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and one interception as he was a massive part of the Miami defense for several years. The biggest takeaway from Taylor's game when you see him on film or in person is his unbelievably quick first step for a guy his size. That allows him to dictate the line of scrimmage, and more often than not, it will enable him to play on the other side of the line to make plays in the backfield.

While he fits best on the inside portion of the line, he is athletic enough to move to the outside, which could create plenty of matchup challenges for the opposing offense. Taylor also has a motor that doesn't quit and makes a lot of plays other DTs can't make due to his overall hustle and effort on the field. Eberflus loves guys who put effort into the defensive side of the ball, so you can see why this is a fit for Chicago.

Even with the positives, you have to look at the negatives, starting with his overall technique. Taylor tends to play with inconsistent hands, which makes him vulnerable against some of the bigger offensive linemen he is going up against. While his overall production has been solid, teams have also doubled-teamed him a ton, which he struggles to solve. That is one thing that will happen at the next level, and should Taylor continue to struggle against double teams, he won't be very effective at the next level.

Although he is athletic and has a quick first step, there isn't much to his pass-rushing arsenal, as he will need to be more creative at the NFL if he wants to get after the QB. Most of those are experience oriented fixes and something Eberflus and his staff can work with during training camp. Chicago knew they needed help in the trenches last season, so they drafted Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens last season.

With Justin Jones no longer on the team, the Bears could use a physical three-technique player in the middle, which Taylor provides. The Miami prospect is hard to block, he’s disruptive, and is able to play well against the run and the pass all things the Bears defense will look to get better at this season. With neither Dexter nor Pickens being great pass rushers at this point in their career, Taylor makes a ton of sense as he adds an element that the rest of the interior line doesn't have.

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