Who is the Seahawks’ next homegrown defensive star?
When the Seahawks were at their best in the early- and mid-2010s, the defense was a smothering, hard-hitting unit that was built largely through the draft.
From 2010 to 2012, the Seahawks drafted safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, cornerback Richard Sherman and linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Since then, Seattle has had some notable draft hits on the defensive side of the football, such as 2015 second-round defensive end Frank Clark, 2016 second-round defensive tackle Jarran Reed and 2017 third-round Shaquill Griffin, but the hits when it comes to star homegrown players on defense hasn’t been as great as it once was.
The Seahawks have used 13 picks on defense the last three years, but do any of these young defenders have a chance of joining the likes of Wagner, Sherman or Thomas? 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy tackled that topic in Three Questions at the start of Tuesday’s show. Jake Heaps thinks there’s two possibilities, and both are from Seattle’s most recent draft class.
“The guy you hope very clearly reaches that level is Jordyn Brooks, your first-round pick of last year,” Heaps said of the 27th overall pick, a linebacker from Texas Tech. “He started to play really well in the second half of the season.”
Brooks started 2020 as the team’s fourth linebacker, but when starting outside linebacker Bruce Irvin tore his ACL in Week 2, Brooks was thrust into a larger role. After missing two games with a knee injury, Brooks played as the Seahawks’ starting weakside linebacker and by the end of the year, he was regularly making big plays and finishing at or near the top of Seattle’s gameday leaders in tackles despite playing in just 32% of the defense’s total snaps in 2020.
“He has all the physical tools and traits to be a top-level linebacker in this league,” Heaps said, adding that Brooks can have the type of impact that linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David have had for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just won the Super Bowl. ” … You watched those two guys in the Super Bowl (play) fast, running sideline to sideline coming downhill, being a physical presence, hitting somebody and really, really making a statement with each and every tackle. I think Jordyn Brooks displayed that.”
While Brooks was the Seahawks’ first 2020 draft pick and played a good amount as a rookie, Seattle’s second 2020 pick didn’t get to play at all. That was defensive end Darrell Taylor, who played collegiately at Tennessee. Due to a shin injury that required offseason surgery, Taylor didn’t play at all as a rookie and didn’t even begin practicing until the first week of the playoffs. Head coach Pete Carroll said after the year that if the Seahawks had advanced to the divisional round, Taylor might have been able to play and that he looked really good in practice.
“That’s (another player) who you hold out hope for, but we have not seen a single snap from him, (so) we don’t know,” he said.
Rost also pointed to Taylor as a potential defensive star. The Seahawks ranked second-to-last in sacks in 2019 and spent a lot of offseason capitol on boosting the pass rush. Taylor was a big part of that, and when it was thought that he’d be able to play, expectations were pretty high.
Rost noted that Jim Nagy, a former Seahawks scout who currently runs the annual Senior Bowl for NFL Draft prospects, was exceptionally high on Taylor and his potential going forward.
“He (told us) there was plenty of raw talent there that needs to be defined, but the ceiling for him is a perfect fit and exactly what (the Seahawks want, and we never got to see it (in 2020),” she said. You can read and hear Nagy’s thoughts on the Seahawks’ draft class in this story Rost wrote shortly after last April’s NFL Draft.
Listen to the first hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.
Jake & Stacy