NFL draft 2020: Eagles’ pick Davion Taylor furiously playing catch-up in sport he loves

Dave Zangaro
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Davion Taylor would crack his window or open the back door just to hear the faint sound of the PA announcer. He would invite every roar from the crowd that made it to his family's Magnolia, Mississippi home, about 2-3 minutes from South Pike High School. 

For the Eagles' third-round draft pick, that was about the extent of his high school football career. 

Taylor, the linebacker whom the Eagles drafted with pick No. 103 on Friday night, was not allowed to play high school football because of his mother's religious beliefs. They were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which didn't allow Taylor to participate in sporting events from Friday night through Sunday morning. 

Taylor loved football but wasn't able to suit up. So before games, he'd sometimes clean the field, picking up water bottles and litter. And then he'd be stuck in his house, listening to the sounds of football, hoping to one day get a chance to play.  

I'd also have people at the game texting me updates and everything, like we just got scored on, we wish you was here and everything," Taylor said on Friday night, after getting drafted in the third round. "It hurt me like not being able to get on the field, but I tried to support them as much as I can or the best way I can.

Taylor, now 21, decided to give football a real try after he turned 18. He tried out for the football team at Coahoma Community College. Taylor said he prayed on it; if he made the team, he'd play football; if he didn't make the team; he wouldn't. 

Taylor made the team. And after two years at the JUCO program and two years at Colorado, he became a third-round linebacker with a ton of upside. 

And with a lot of work left to do. 

"We're not drafting this guy in the third round because we don't think he's going to be a serious contributor in his rookie contract," GM Howie Roseman said about the athletic linebacker. "We're certainly hoping that he's going to get out on the field as quickly as possible. The defensive staff coach is really excited about him, and we also think he can be a difference maker on special teams."

It's easy to see why the Eagles are intrigued with him. VP of player personnel Andy Weidl saw Taylor play against Oregon and his speed jumped out. Taylor ran a 4.49 at the combine and then ran a 4.39 at his pro day. 

No question there's upside. But now it's up to Taylor and the Eagles help him fulfill that potential. 

Taylor said he arrived to JUCO with an insatiable appetite for football. He wanted to learn everything he could. He asked questions, he watched film, he would often seek out extra help. 

Then Taylor arrived to Colorado and did the same thing. He played in 24 games for the Buffs, but is still obviously a work in progress. 

"But I still have that itch just to keep on learning," he said, "and I feel like the more I learn the more I'm going to be able to compete and just become a better player."

Taylor said that during the pre-draft process NFL teams wanted to make sure he wasn't "burned out" on football after playing catch-up for four seasons. 

Not the case, Taylor says. 

"And I was just telling teams, I really want to learn the game," he said. "I will probably get on their nerves because I will ask for extra meetings, I will ask for extra work, because I want to become a better player and I want to be on the field. So, I'm going to go do anything I can, and whatever I can do to become a great player and be productive on the field and just help bring the Eagles some wins."

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NFL draft 2020: Eagles pick Davion Taylor furiously playing catch-up in sport he loves originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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