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2021 Steelers’ Futures Report: DE Calvin Taylor

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2020 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.

Calvin Taylor/DE Kentucky – 6’8/2 310

Taylor has to have one of the oddest body types not only for any defensive linemen on the Steelers but any defensive linemen in the league. 6’8 310 with long arms and skinny ankles. When Pittsburgh signed him as a UDFA out of Kentucky, I thought for sure he was going to convert to offensive tackle. Just as Alejandro Villanueva did (successfully) and Brian Mihalik attempted (unsuccessfully). But as far as I know, and as he remains listed, Taylor is still playing on the defensive side of the football.

He made 22 starts for the Wildcats, taking over that role midway through the 2018 season. He became more than just a curiosity by his senior season, putting up an impressive 8.5 sacks. But his sack reel wasn’t as impressive as the box score might indicate and he fell out of the draft before inking a UDFA contract with the Steelers.

In our post-draft scouting report, here’s how we summed him up.

“But the dude moves like someone who’s 6’8. He can get up to speed in a straight line but in tight quarters, like the ones he most often sees in the trenches, he’s rigid, tall, and looks out of place. He’s like Daniel McCullers but McCullers is a lot heavier and filled out. Taylor is like if Big Dan skipped leg day.”

He made it through the offseason, not there was much happening, and training camp before being released at roster cutdowns. Taylor visited with the team on September 24th and signed the next day after McCullers was poached by the Chicago Bears. That’s where he spent the entire season, not even called up once with the league’s new flexible rosters. There were a couple moments where it seemed like Taylor could be promoted when the Steelers’ line was hit by injuries. But it never happened and Taylor’s waiting to dress for his first pro game.

And that’s…about all the information we have. Without a training camp for us to attend and no preseason games, there’s not much for us to go off of. Hopefully Taylor has gotten a little stronger and filled out his lower body during his rookie season. The path for a roster spot in 2021 still seems difficult. But there are some theoretical moves that’d work in his favor. Pittsburgh not re-signing Chris Wormley would be a good start. And despite his talent, Isaiah Buggs has clearly frustrated this team with weight and assignment issues.

Still, the defensive line has plenty of options with the likes of Carlos Davis, Henry Mondeaux, and the likelihood of Tyson Alualu re-upping with the team. With all the potential/likely losses at offensive tackle this offseason, maybe this is the year Taylor gets moved to the offensive side of the ball. Wouldn’t be the worst idea.

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