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Clayton: Why Darrell Taylor was the star of Seahawks rookie minicamp

Darrell Taylor received looks at both linebacker and defensive end this weekend. (Getty)

The star of the Seahawks’ rookie camp wasn’t a rookie. It was Darrell Taylor, last year’s second-round choice.

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After missing last season because of his slow recovery from a surgery where a rod was placed in his leg, Taylor looked healthy during the minicamp over the weekend.

He moved well, and he offered bonus value to the Seahawks because they are using him at strongside linebacker and at the Leo defensive end position. Could he be the next Bruce Irvin?

This is an interesting time for the Seahawks’ linebacking corps. For the past couple of years, the Seahawks have been in more base defense, but that started to switch back to the normal nickel defense last season. K.J. Wright is unsigned and while the team is still talking to him, with or without Wright the playing time will be adjusted at outside linebacker.

Wright played 86 percent of the snaps last season, while 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks played 31.86 percent. Irvin played 122 plays in two games at strongside linebacker and Leo before his season ended after two games. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner played 99.13 percent of the snaps. Irvin hasn’t been offered the chance to return.

If Brooks takes over at weakside linebacker, that leaves about 35 percent of the snaps for the strongside linebacker if the Seahawks are in nickel 65 percent of the time. So much depends on whether the Seahawks’ opponents are playing a three-receiver offense or a two-tight end offense.

Still, Taylor could be an important part of the defense this season. So much was expected of him last year, but mostly as a defensive end.

When Taylor couldn’t play at the beginning of the season, the Seahawks didn’t have enough pass-rush talent to generate sacks. That changed when the Seahawks make a trade for Carlos Dunbar and the pass rush turned into one of the better pass-rushing groups in the league. With the returns of Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, the addition of Kerry Hyder at five-technique and Taylor’s contribution, the pass rush might even get better in 2021.

The Seahawks had good reviews for their three draft choices at minicamp. They had some interesting fits with their 13 undrafted players. But the big story was Taylor.

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