Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
If players were evaluated after only one year in the NFL, it's safe to say that most of the 2013 draft class would be out of a job right now. Fortunately, many teams give their draft picks, especially ones selected in the higher rounds, at least three - four years to prove that they can play in the NFL.
Jamar Taylor is one of those players who was drafted last year but ended up having a disappointing season after battling injuries throughout the year.
“Last year we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Taylor said. “They drafted us for a reason. We all don’t think we’re any type of busts. We all got guys who can do it, whether it’s for special teams or on defense or on offense. We know we’re going to try to get in there and try to contribute to this team and make some plays so we can try make a playoff run or whatever run we can week in and week out.”
Will Davis, who was selected in the third round, agrees that they need to step up this year.
“Oh yeah, most definitely because I’m a part of that and all of us are prideful in a sense, so we definitely don’t want to be considered a negative to the team in the sense of someone who didn’t help,” Davis said. “But we didn’t. The fact that we almost went to the playoffs and kind of without our 2013 draft class, it shows that if we could have stayed healthy, doing our thing, we probably at least could have made that race into the playoffs.”
Because of all the injuries last year, Taylor didn't see much practice time and wasn't able to get the experience needed to be successful and improve at a faster rate.
“This is really like my first camp,” Taylor said. “I was going through injuries last year, but from a mental aspect it’s easier because you know what to expect. You know you’re going to be in meetings for a long time. You know practice is going to be long and hard. You know you’re going to mess up on plays because you’re mentally tired sometimes, but you know that you’ve got to get better. I think it makes it a little easier just knowing what to expect. After being with the coaches for two years, you know how they coach and you know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from you and just what to do to get you going.”
As Taylor put it in the spring: “I feel like (last season) was a learning experience for all of us. We all came here on our high horse and got humbled real quick. But we’ve got to keep working. I expect us all to do good, continue to learn, come out here and play fast and compete. We’ll see when the season comes. But compared to everybody else, they can do it, we can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Dolphins drafted the right players last year.”