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Ravens Insider: Mike Preston: Ravens would be wise to target Ed Reed’s cousin, Trey Taylor, in NFL draft | COMMENTARY


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When Air Force safety Trey Taylor wanted some inside information on the Ravens, he went to a relative: Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.

They are cousins by marriage, but Taylor always called Reed “unc,” and Reed calls Taylor his nephew. Reed’s diagnosis of the Ravens organization was as thorough as his film study when he played in Baltimore from 2002 through 2012.

“It’s called 1 Winning Drive, the street they are on,” said Taylor, who went to The Castle for a predraft visit with the Ravens on March 19. “I loved the place, I loved the people there. It seemed like everybody was happy to be there, and they all had winning attitudes.

“It was definitely a positive experience. I’m looking forward to comparing the experience I had with them to the other places I will visit.”

Taylor is also expected to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders before the NFL draft, which is April 25-27 in Detroit.

But Taylor fits the profile of a Ravens “hybrid” safety. At 6 feet and 206 pounds, he can play near the line of scrimmage and in the deep third of the field. He had 71 tackles last season and earned first-team All-Mountain West honors. He also recorded six career interceptions.

It’s one of the things he said he discussed with Ravens coach John Harbaugh and first-year defensive coordinator Zach Orr during his visit.

“That’s what they were saying, they would be excited about me playing underneath, but they like how I can also convert to being somebody that plays deep,” Taylor said.

The Ravens need safety help, too. They lost Geno Stone to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, and while they return starters Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, Williams missed seven games last season with various injuries and played much of the year with one arm because he declined to have surgery for a torn pectoral muscle.

There is a lot to like about Taylor. He started for three years at Air Force and finished with 205 career tackles. Various draft reports have said he has good intuition reading plays. He also received the 2023 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the best defensive back in college.

Air Force's Trey Taylor, the 2023 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back, is the cousin of former Ravens safety and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed. (Air Force Athletics/Handout)
Air Force’s Trey Taylor, the 2023 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back, is the cousin of former Ravens safety and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed. (Air Force Athletics/Handout)

Taylor, who played at Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas, was recruited by 30 schools, including every Ivy League school but Princeton.

But Taylor chose the Air Force Academy.

“I really wanted to have a positive lifestyle for my family whenever I was getting out,” he said. “I didn’t think that football or going to the NFL at that time in my life was even a possibility. At the Air Force Academy, everybody was really like-minded, everybody had some aspirations in life. They wanted to do big things, wanted to be around big corporations, and I really appreciated that.”

Playing at a service academy, though, has some disadvantages. Army, Navy and Air Force don’t play a traditional, modern style of football. Defenders face run-oriented offenses in practice every day.

There is also the five-year obligation to stay in the military after graduation, though Taylor said he can play in the NFL first as long as he is under contract before having to serve that obligation.

Afterward, according to Taylor, he can pay $250,000 or serve out the five-year commitment. Those things might have played a part in Taylor not being invited to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February.

East's Trey Taylor, of Air Force, lines up during the East West Shrine Bowl NCAA college football game in Frisco, Texas, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Air Force safety Trey Taylor said he “dominated” practices at the Shrine Bowl while competing against some of the country’s top NFL draft prospects. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Taylor has also been criticized by draft analysts for being too aggressive on the field and not waiting until he can dissect a play. Maybe that’s why he is projected to be a late-round pick.

But at his pro day in Colorado Springs, Taylor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times and recorded a 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump.

He has heard his stock is rising.

“I got to the Shrine Bowl and played against some of the best competition in the country and honestly dominated those practices,” Taylor said, “so hopefully [scouts] can bring that back to the [general managers] and really be able to say he’s actually really effective no matter who or what opponent he is playing against.

“I’m pretty confident in what I’ve been hearing from my agency and how I’ve been climbing up the draft board. I’m happy with the progress. The reality is I can slip into the fourth round or possibly sign as an undrafted free agent. It all depends how the board shakes out.”

Regardless, Taylor is easy to like. He is well-rounded and likes to fish, cook and paint. He loves snowboarding, skiing and seeing different parts of the world. Because of his service background, the Ravens know “he is going to play like a Raven” and he can spend possibly a year polishing his skill set playing behind Hamilton and Williams.

Taylor has watched Hamilton play for years going back to the 2022 first-round pick’s days at Notre Dame. Taylor likes the leverage Hamilton plays with, especially filling gaps and taking on blockers. Before Air Force games, he used to watch Washington safety Sean Taylor deliver vicious hits because it amped him up.

And then, of course, there’s “unc,” Ed Reed.

“I literally can call him up right now and be like, ‘Hey, let’s talk ball, or let’s talk investments, or let’s talk life after football,’ and we can have a two-hour conversation,” Taylor said. “It’s crazy. He’s really like having somebody in my corner.

“He has a ton of love for the organization and you can see it in the way that he talks about the team.”

Now, we’ll see if the Ravens have that mutual feeling about Taylor on draft weekend.

NFL draft

Round 1: Thursday, April 25, 8 p.m.

Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: Saturday, April 27, noon

TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network

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