A historic senior class paved the way for Western Michigan’s memorable 13-1 season and Cotton Bowl appearance. This weekend, several stars from the team will hear their names called on the stage at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia.
Offensive tackle Taylor Moton will likely be the second Bronco to be selected by an NFL franchise, following first-round talent wide receiver Corey Davis.
Moton’s presence in Kalamazoo was crucial to the incremental rise of the program. A four-year starter, the former guard experienced a 1-11 record and two 8-5 seasons before reaching the near-summit of college football in 2016 — a conference championship and Cotton Bowl berth.
From the right tackle position, Moton anchored the Broncos to the 12th-most rushing yards in the nation during his senior campaign. He blocked for the formidable two-back combo of Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan, one of the most dominant one-two punches in the nation last season. His offensive line’s blocking created 13 100-yard rushing performances for the Broncos in 2016, including Jarvion Franklin’s new program record of 281 rushing yards.
Moton doesn’t give up on plays either. The Outland Trophy candidate demonstrated the ability to drive through defenders throughout his tenure at Western Michigan, using his 6-foot-5-inch, 319-pound frame to stifle and thwart off opposing defensive linemen. Below is an example of Moton’s incredible drive, pummeling Illinois defender and likely mid-round draft pick Dawuane Smoot during the Broncos’ decisive 34-10 road victory over Illinois last September.
What needs work for Moton? He doesn’t exactly match the athleticism of the top offensive line prospects this year, including Alabama’s Cam Robinson or Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk. Instead, Moton is built like a powerful tank, needing to implement faster footwork into his blocking technique in order to provide better protection.
Professional defensive ends, including J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan, are developing into stronger, faster, and more athletic pass rushers each year. Offensive tackles must counter by matching this athleticism in order to produce long, successful NFL careers as lead blockers.
With his size and power, Moton is gifted with the ability to play tackle at the next level. Luckily for him, he additionally has the versatility and experience to line up at guard. Moton played right guard for the entirety of his junior season in Kalamazoo, where he achieved All-MAC Third Team honors. But in his senior season at right tackle, he rose to an even greater level — All-MAC First Team. Moton also displayed extreme durability during a four-year college career, starting in all 52 games while apart of the Broncos roster.
NFL Combine Results
- 40-yard dash: 5.18 seconds
- 225-pound bench: 23 reps
- Vertical jump: 30.5 inches
- Broad jump: 9 feet, 1 inch
- Shuttle run: 4.58 seconds
- 3-cone drill: 7.73 seconds
Moton impressed NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl in late January and posted a solid showing for an offensive lineman at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in March. These quality numbers should increase the offensive lineman’s draft stock.
Moton is a day two selection, most likely falling in the second round or early third round. In a shallow class of offensive linemen, Moton ranks near the top. CBS and Sports Illustrated have listed him as the fifth-best offensive tackle prospect, while USA Today ranked him as high as fourth. The Western Michigan alum will be a safe pick for any team looking to add power to its offensive line, and the Missouri native may even find himself in a starting role during his first NFL season.
Listen for Moton’s name on Friday night when about 50 selections have been completed. The Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks line up with back-to-back picks at 57 and 58, both entering the draft with questions at the right tackle position. Moton could be a long-term solution for both franchises — ones that have earned playoff berths in the past two seasons.