Steelers CB Ike Taylor Thinks Bodies Of Most Underclassmen Are Not Ready For NFL

By Josh Svetz

Cornerback Ike Taylor likes to tackle the issues, not just with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but with the NFL in general.

Recently, Taylor has decided to tackle a somewhat low-key, issue in the NFL that many fans may not actually know about.  To sum it up, with a record number of underclassmen (98) entering the NFL draft this year, concern has grown about their place in the league.

According to an article by Dave-Te Thomas, many NFL scouts and General Managers are concerned about the underclassmen of the draft not being ready for the NFL.  Taylor has echoed these sentiments and he explained how he sees this problem on Trib Live Radio’s “The Ike Taylor Show “Tuesday morning.

“First, rookies in general now feel more entitled without actually doing any work in the NFL”. Taylor said. “When they feel more entitled, they don’t work as hard as they did to get drafted.”

As the ball continued to roll on this issue, Taylor got into more detail about issues that specifically hurt underclassmen.

“98 underclassmen is a lot, and the NFL doesn’t have a D League (developmental league) like the NBA,” Taylor said. “The issue is, one, your (underclassmen) body isn’t fully developed. It’s (the NFL) grown men against grown men and most guys aren’t ready for that, especially if their body isn’t fully developed. Sure, once in a blue moon the NFL has a LeBron James-type who is ready from the get-go. For the majority, many guys’ bodies aren’t ready for the NFL.”

After Taylor took on the physical nature of the game, he also delved into the mental aspect of it and how social media has affected younger players.

“With social media now being a factor, many guys just aren’t mentally tough enough to play.” Taylor said. “Before, you could get away with a lot, but with the advancement of the internet and the creation of smart phones and social media, it’s much more difficult.”

What Taylor is most likely saying is the evolution of the internet and cell phones not only creates a distraction, but can also create problems if a player is caught doing something he shouldn’t. The NFL is already a mental grind as it is and with other outside factors such as social media now added into it, it’s not a surprise that some players can’t handle it.

While Taylor had a very tough view on underclassmen, he did understand that everyone’s situation is different.

“You never know their (underclassmen) situation,” said Taylor. “You just never know what agents are telling them or their motives for leaving early. Some guys want to help their families out and because of that; they come out before they’re ready.”

Taylor definitely brought up some interesting points. It is true that many NFL players did not come from wealthy parents and going to the NFL early lets them help their families out. Agents are also trying to get paid and they sometimes may not always have the best interest of their client in mind.

Overall, Taylor seemed to have some good insight on the topic and shined some light on an issue that seems to be being swept under the rug.

The host of the show, John Harris, brought up an interesting point that according to Thomas’s breakdown, 35 out of the 98 declaring underclassmen have little to no chance of being selected in this upcoming NFL draft.

We will see how that number shakes out in the draft this year and if the high underclassmen trend continues or regresses as a result.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    This could actually help the Steelers. Whereas teams that were in the playoffs last year will not have too much turnover, the Steelers may be able to give quite a few UDFA’s a chance and actually keep them around if they believe they are a project to be groomed over 1-2 years. I think the Steelers will do their homework and now are more apt to give some real smart guy a chance, thinking that they will learn faster. We shall see.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    2 other aspects that come into play are the reduction in performance enhancers and the new CBA that is as easy on rookies as it is on vets.

    The NFL should help fund a small developmental league with both affiliated and non affiliated players.

    A couple of extra roster spots, maybe even redshirt/developmental spots with lower base salaries and no option to play in an actual game could help.

  • PoKey21

    Does anyone know the logic that goes into the decision of these underclassmen who are only borderline draft picks? Are they just thinking they can sign on as an undrafted FA and hope to prove themselves in camp? If not then they hope to make the practice squad. Sounds like a tough go of it. I guess it’s better than risking an injury while not being compensated for it.


    God!!! Now that Ike’s in his last year, he’s going all ‘Ryan Clark’ on us, by giving us a season of running HIS mouth!!!! LOL!!!

  • kamil

    You make no sense..hes right..young players are not physically ready

  • hp b

    Good article. Good insight by one of the best players in the league the last ten years; Ike Taylor.

  • John A Stewart

    Neither are old players

  • kamil

    ?? Did you read what he said..he pointed out more than one aspect he also mentioned the mentality and pressure some guys got it sme dont..every gm in the league arw concerned about the maturity levels and durability ..the keafue is hard to get used too..he wasnt sayin they couldnt do it

  • IckyD

    Ike didn’t say anything untrue or even controversial.

    And i personally think Ike stands a chance of extending his career by being versatile and accepting vet. mins.; he still has a strong body, excellent familiarity w/the defense and-imho- might be a good backup nickle/corner/safety/STer for such a low price.

    I don’t know what his plans are but him bulking up a bit might let him be a great option as an emergency DB…

  • Thank you, I was really impressed with his insight as well.

  • Both men’s opinions are valid, I have no problem with what Clark or Taylor say as long as its educated. The only person’s thoughts on Pittsburgh that ever bothered me, at least, what I can remember is Mendenhall.