Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor’s path to the NFL has been unconventional. He was drafted out of Rice University despite a productive career, instead, Taylor had to work his way up on the scout team, going up against the Denver Broncos championship defense every week. He also became known as one of Peyton Manning’s select few, helping him rehabilitate back to full shape last year and catching passes from the future Hall of Famer in private workouts.
Sunshine’s unusual path is what has lead him to this point, firmly in the Broncos receiving group and looking to contribute in a bigger role, as injuries to Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer have given him more snaps.
“It's hard not to think about those things,” said Taylor about potentially making his first NFL roster. “But you try not to as much. Obviously, you don't want Bennie or Cody to be hurt. I mean, those are my guys. We're a good, tight wide receiver corps, but it is what it is. It's an opportunity and I'm going to go out there Thursday and try to earn a spot.”
Taylor also reflected back on his time last year, particularly how his experience playing on the scout team has allowed him to grow as a player.
“Going against them all year last year, it was a grind for sure,” said No. 87. “They're a heck of a defense. I really think it made me a better player. I saw a lot of man coverage on defense, which is what a lot of teams play in the NFL. I think from that standpoint and a technique standpoint it helped tremendously.”
His experience has certainly been a plus for Taylor, who admits to being almost a different player in year two.
“It's my second time to be here,” he said of being on Denver’s roster bubble. “It's crazy that it's already the fourth preseason game. It's been flying by. I'm really excited. The confidence level compared to last year is a lot higher. Whether that be just knowing the offense, knowing schemes on special teams, I'm just a lot more comfortable out there and ready to get out there.”
“I had a few big catches, it's all good, but that's practice,” explained Sunshine. “You want to go out and try to make that happen in a game more than anything. I'm looking forward to that and having an opportunity to make one of those plays Thursday night.”
Another thing the former Rice standout is excited about is being able to play with Trevor Siemian, his new starting quarterback. As another underrated player with an unconventional path, Sunshine is firmly in the Broncos quarterback's corner.
“I'm not surprised at all,” said Taylor about Siemian winning the job. “He's a very poised and confident player. I think the label of being a seventh-round guy will quickly fade away when he gets out there and gets to prove himself, so I'm really looking forward to that.”
Though he won’t admit it yet, Jordan Taylor has a great shot of making this team in 2016 and don’t be surprised if he's productive. After making a name for himself in practice, Sunshine is ready to show the rest of the NFL what he can do.