Cleveland Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor, one of the few bright spots for the defense in 2016, has been recognized for his improvement by PFF.
Not much went right for the Cleveland Browns defense in 2016, as former defensive coordinator Ray Horton unsurprisingly led the unit to the bottom of the NFL’s rankings.
But one bright spot was cornerback Jamar Taylor, who earned most-improved player honors from Pro Football Focus. The analytics site ranked players that saw the biggest increase in their grade from 2015 to 2016, and Taylor was one of three players honored at his position as he went from a grade of 36.7 in 2015 to 82.8 last season:
"Taylor was sent from Miami to Cleveland via swapping seventh-rounders during the 2016 NFL Draft. A key reason why he showed such drastic improvement had to do with how he was deployed. With the Dolphins, Taylor played only 5 percent of snaps in the slot. In Cleveland, he spent 32 percent of his snaps there. Because of this, he found more success shutting down out routes (51.3 passer rating allowed), slants (62.5), and crossing routes (48.8). After finding himself ranked 106th overall among CBs in 2015, Taylor emerged as our 19th-ranked CB in 2016."
Now it should be noted, as PFF points out, the players on the list are being honored, in part, because they played poorly the year before.
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But Taylor still posted a solid first season with the Browns after coming over in a draft-day trade from the Miami Dolphins. Taylor had spent the past three seasons with the Dolphins after being drafted out of Boise State as the No. 54 selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. He appeared in 33 games for Miami, totaling 82 tackles and zero interceptions.
Taylor also dealt with injuries during his time in Miami, first with a sports hernia and then a major shoulder injury. The Dolphins decided that Taylor was expendable after drafting defensive back Xavien Howard in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Once in Cleveland, Taylor quickly became the team’s best cornerback, finishing the year with a career-high three interceptions and adding 46 tackles while starting 15 games.
For his efforts, the Browns signed Taylor to a three-year contract extension near the end of the season and earning some praise from executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown:
"“Jamar has been a really good addition to our secondary and we are happy to come to an agreement with him on an extension. He’s an extremely hard worker and has shown true perseverance throughout his NFL career. His veteran presence and flexible skill set that allows him to function at nickel and corner has proved to be a valuable asset to our team. Jamar is a solid performer that has made some nice plays for us over the course of season and we look forward to him contributing to Browns victories in the future.”"
Taylor is not a star by any stretch, but proved that he can be a stabilizing presence on the defense at one of the team’s more vulnerable positions.