CLEVELAND — When new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton began discussing the change from a 4-3 to a multifront scheme, a big question came to mind.
Big, as in 355 pounds big.
Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, the 21st overall pick in the 2011 draft, doesn’t seem to fit Horton’s philosophy of “big men who can run and little men who can hit.”
Standing 6-foot-3 and 334 pounds at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, Taylor did run the 40 in 5.09 seconds, better than Ohio State defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, projected as a first-round pick, did. Hankins, 6-3 and 320 pounds, lumbered through it in 5.31 seconds.
But for Taylor, that was 21 pounds ago.
Going into his draft, Taylor was projected as a good fit as a stay-at-home nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. But during his introductory news conference, Horton said he was looking for versatile players.
“Our guys can play a multitude of things. I don’t like to get pigeonholed into, ‘Well, he is this,’” Horton said on Jan. 29.
Perhaps he was referring to all but the nose tackle.
Appearing last week at the Greater Cleveland Auto Show at the I-X Center, Taylor said he was excited about playing for Horton. He didn’t seem concerned about the switch to the 3-4, if that’s what the Browns use as their base, and how it would affect him.
“I can play end,” Taylor said. “I’m the type of person, if you put me at linebacker, I’m going to try to play it. If you put me at running back I’m going to try to play it. I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do. I’m just ready.”
Taylor said he stopped at Browns headquarters Thursday and spoke to Chudzinski and Horton, although not in detail. Taylor said Horton told him, “‘I’ve been watching film on you and I can’t wait to sit down and talk to you.’”
Per the collective bargaining agreement, that can’t happen until April 1.
Taylor didn’t seem fazed at the prospect of playing the unglamorous position of 3-4 nose tackle. That means he would be expected to stand his ground, occupy multiple offensive linemen and get no sacks. In two seasons, he has five sacks, four as a rookie.
“Why not? If I’m tying up two or three guys, that means we’ve got two guys free. That’s good for me,” Taylor said.
He said Baylor played primarily a 4-3, but used the 3-4 in certain packages. He said his Gwynn Park High School team in Clinton, Md., also played 3-4.
Spending his offseason in Naples, Fla., Taylor said he has modified his weight-lifting routine. In May, he suffered a torn pectoral at the Browns’ facility and underwent surgery, which limited him to eight games, seven starts.
“There’s just certain things you’ve got to do,” Taylor said. “Not a lot of heavy weights. Less weight and more reps.”
He said he must concentrate on technique and know his limits, especially when bench-pressing. But he said he’s rested and 100 percent recovered.
Taylor said he learned much about being a professional “on and off the field” from former Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. But after speaking to Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who played for Horton the past two seasons, Taylor is ready for Horton’s aggressive style.
“This defense this year is going to look totally different,” Taylor said. “We’re going to be out there flying around. It’s going to be crazy. I can’t wait to get out there.
“Everybody will be attacking in this defense. You’ll see.”