One way or another, Jonathan Taylor was destined to play in Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers had Taylor on their short list of candidates whom they were considering with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
One high-ranking Buccaneers official even said in recent weeks that had offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs been selected before their turn in the first round, Tampa Bay would have drafted Taylor at No. 14.
But Wirfs was available, and Tampa Bay traded up one slot from No. 14 to San Francisco’s turn at No. 13 to draft the offensive tackle who has been a standout since joining the Buccaneers.
But that selection didn’t diminish the way that Tampa Bay felt about Taylor, who enters Sunday’s showdown as the league leader in rushing yards (1,122) and total touchdowns (15).
“I loved him,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told reporters this past week. “He could do it all, and it was just a matter of time — playing behind that offensive line — that he was going to be the force that he is.”
The Buccaneers nearly had Taylor slide to them in the second round at pick No. 45, but the Colts ultimately traded up from No. 44 to No. 41, where they drafted Taylor. Tampa Bay wound up drafting safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has been a standout during his first two NFL seasons.