Keith Taylor is all upside.
Or, at least, he better be.
On Saturday, the Carolina Panthers selected the former UW cornerback with the 166th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. And they did so in hopes of developing an intriguing, yet unabashedly unfinished, athlete.
In four seasons and 43 career games at UW, the 6-foot-2, 187-pound Taylor compiled 91 tackles with 10 passes defended and 3.5 tackles for loss. Though he failed to record an interception or land on an All-Pac-12 team, the Long Beach, Calif., product excelled at the Senior Bowl — so much so that NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said “I don’t know that I remember a better game from a corner in an all-star game than what Taylor has done today.”
Taylor is the fourth UW defensive player to be drafted this week — joining outside linebacker Joe Tryon (32nd to Tampa Bay), defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike (41st to Detroit) and defensive back Elijah Molden (100th to Tennessee).
And though Taylor told The Times in February that “my college career didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to,” he earned an NFL opportunity all the same.
“I think I’m one of the better press-man corners in the draft,” Taylor said following his pro day in March. “I think I’m pretty physical at the point of attack. I feel like I have good feet, good length. I feel like I use my length really well, and I’m super quick.
“I feel like I can play with anybody, really. I have the speed to do it and I have the quickness to do it as well.”