Cleveland Browns UDFA No. 10: Taylor Gabriel, wide receiver, Class of 2014
Is it really possible to find a sub-4.4 wide receiver as a UDFA? Sure! In fact, you can even pick up a sub 4.3 guy once in a while. Taylor Gabriel was supposedly clocked at 4.27 at his Pro Day, although your humble correspondent does not actually believe that time, truth to tell.
Pro Days can be inconsistent in track conditions and timing technology, and may not exactly mirror the Combine results. Hence, 4.27 has to be taken with a grain of salt. On other occasions, he was timed at 4.4 seconds. He was still very fast, but not necessarily Deion Sanders’ class speed.
Gabriel got dinged for being too short (5-7), too small (168 pounds), and the usual bugaboo of coming from a small school (Abilene Christine, where he was a 1,000-yard receiver as a junior in 2013
Hence the Browns were able to sign him as a UDFA in 2014. Pro scouts, like fans, seem to like tall, fast wide receivers; but a short quick guy with sure hands is better than nothing. Once summer camp starts, it often turns out that Pro Day stats are not decisive, anyway. The players actually have to play football, and Gabriel could actually play.
He posted 621 yards as a rookie and 17.3 yards per reception. True you don’t throw him jump balls in the end zone very often, but much of the time, football is just about getting open.
In 2015, Gabriel had concussions and did not post very good numbers. In the following offseason, the Browns had veteran Andrew Hawkins and surprise converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and they managed to draft four wide receivers, including first-round pick Corey Coleman plus Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins, and Jordan Payton. Hence there was no roster spot for Gabriel and he would end up becoming an Atlanta Falcon.
With the Falcons, Gabriel gained 579 receiving yards despite a late start with the Falcons playbook. As for the Browns’ Fab Four draftees, Coleman was the best for the Browns with 413 yards but only a 45.3% catch percentage.
Taylor made it to the Super Bowl, which you may recall was famous for the Falcons’ collapse, blowing a fourth-quarter lead, with one of the keys being an unnecessary sack of Matt Ryan which took them out of field goal range.
Players like to showboat sometimes, and it might be that offensive coordinators do the same thing, as we have seen a few outrageous in-your-face play calls by Shanahan as well as the ultimate disaster by Darrell Bevell of the Seahawks., although Pete Carroll wanted to accept the blame for it.