Legendary coach Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about talent at the pro level. Like many other great coaches, he rarely put much stock in rookies. Except one.

That was linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who burst on the scene with the New York Giants in 1981. In a recent interview on The Pat McAfee Show, Belichick said Taylor was the only rookie he ever coached who was ready for the NFL from Day 1.

“Lawrence Taylor was a different story,” Belichick said, via Yardbarker. “Lawrence Taylor from Day 1 impacted the team, showed he was the best player on the field — way better than everyone else — and (we) built a defense around him from that point going forward. It’s usually not Day 1 of (a player’s) rookie year. I would say Lawrence Taylor would be the one exception to that rule.”

In 1981, the Giants selected Taylor second overall out of North Carolina, a godsend of a pick after the New Orleans Saints passed on him at No. 1 in favor of South Carolina running back and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers.

Belichick was a special teams and defensive assistant under head coach Ray Perkins and defensive coordinator Bill Parcells. All Giants fans know how this story turns out, so there’s no sense in going through the glory days that came while Taylor roamed the Meadowland.

Taylor was All-Pro and Hall of Fame-caliber from the second he stepped on the practice field that summer. The Giants already had two Pro Bowl linebackers in Harry Carson and Brad Van Pelt, and another solid one in Brian Kelley.

That’s why fans were perplexed why general manager George Young chose to take a linebacker at No. 2 overall instead of trying to fix one of the league’s worst offensive units.

But that questioning would end quickly once they saw the energy and power of Taylor, who transformed the Giants into a contender practically all by himself. It was an amazing moment in NFL history.

Few could ever remember a defensive player who had so much impact on a team’s fate, not even the great Dick Butkus. The Giants went from a doormat to a playoff team in Taylor’s first season.


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