Colts’ Jonathan Taylor is not ESPN’s top running back

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Following a historic campaign, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is considered by many to be the best running back in the NFL.

However, we can’t count ESPN among those in that group. In their positional rankings, which are composed of a survey of coaches, executives and players, Taylor came in at No. 2 behind Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.

Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 7
Age: 23 | Last year’s ranking: Honorable mention

Last year, Taylor lost a tiebreaker with Josh Jacobs for the 10th spot, which seems silly now. Taylor exploded in Year 2 with 1,811 yards — leading all running backs by 500-plus yards — and 18 touchdowns on 332 carries.

“You go into the game with the Colts and say, ‘Don’t let him kill you. Make the quarterback beat you,'” an NFC exec said. “He’s No. 1, 2 and 3 on the game plan.”

A scout in the AFC added that Taylor is the total package for the Colts, a humble player and an incredibly hard worker to match the on-field explosion. Taylor had seven more rushing touchdowns and 700 more yards in 2021 than he did his rookie year.

“He’s only going to get better,” the scout said. “And his breakaway speed can change the game at any time.”

Indeed, he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. His five runs of 40 or more yards led the league last year, and no other back had more than two. But conversely, one NFC exec calls Taylor a “compiler,” racking up yards in a favorable setup in Indy’s offensive system and top-shelf offensive line play.

“I like him a lot, I just think he’s set up for success more than most,” the exec said.

Taylor became the youngest player ever to rush for 1,800 yards during the 2021 campaign while topping 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns. He broke the single-season rushing yards and touchdown records for Colts history.

The only thing standing between Taylor and the top spot is Henry. The 28-year-old back suffered a foot injury halfway through the 2021 season and missed the entire second half of the season. This allowed Taylor to take over and eventually earn the rushing title.

With both players healthy, we should get a better idea of which back is truly worthy of holding the top spot in the NFL.

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