All of the rookies entering the NFL season face an uphill battle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but linebacker Davion Taylor probably faces the steepest hill of them all.
Even before the pandemic, Taylor was looked at by analysts as a raw, yet talented, linebacker who lacked the football experience most players have when they enter the NFL. Due to his religious beliefs, Taylor played just one game of football in high school, but after walking on at Coahoma Community College in Mississippi, his raw talent still landed him a spot on the University of Colorado's football program where he stood out.
The Eagles selected Taylor in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the hopes they could help his football acumen catch up to his athletic ability. But the pandemic meant doing so without any in-person or on-field instruction for Taylor until this week.
Taylor admitted to reporters Wednesday that mastering his first playbook virtually was tough, as he considers himself to be more of a hands-on learner and is aware of the challenge that lies ahead of him.
However, Taylor is not making any excuses. In his mind, he is a pro, and he is now obligated to act as such. Being a pro means there is little to no room for error, regardless of how much experience one possesses.
"I still have so much to learn and I'm willing to learn," Taylor said. "I want to learn, so I feel like it's just a blessing at the same time."
Given the circumstances, Taylor said he did everything he could to soak up as much knowledge as possible from Linebackers Coach Ken Flajole. The veteran assistant had to be more patient than usual during the virtual offseason, but especially so with Taylor, who is still rounding into shape as a football player.
Taylor foresees himself being a polished product in the NFL in the near future and envisions himself being in the same mold as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. How does he get to that level? According to Taylor, simply through hard work and dedication.
Taylor has showcased that already during his short time at the NovaCare Complex, as he has been eagerly learning all three linebacker positions and sitting in on every special teams meeting.
"I just want to do everything I can to be a contributor to this team, and just help us win a championship," he said.
Taylor is approaching every day at the NovaCare Complex like it is a gameday. Still, he will not see a true gameday until the season opener September 13 in Washington because of the pandemic. Head Coach Doug Pederson and his staff are hoping to make up for that lack of game time in a variety of ways during Training Camp.
But until those real games begin, Taylor will simply keep working his way uphill.
"We're just trying to take it day by day and little by little, just to make sure we get everything correct," he said.