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Heaps: Darrell Taylor can be ‘perfect fit’ for Seahawks’ defense in 2021

The Seahawks may use Darrell Taylor like they once used a former high draft pick. (Getty)

The Seahawks are returning many of their top players from last season’s NFC West-winning roster, and they also went out and acquired some notable names, as well. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some under-the-radar players on the team, though.

Bumpus: Are Seahawks currently better or worse on defense than in 2020?

During Friday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy, former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus identified 2020 first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks as his pick for an under-the-radar Seahawks player to keep a close eye on as we head into the 2021 season.

When asked the same question later in the show, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps also chose a high pick from 2020 – Seattle’s second-rounder.

“The player that I would say that’s flying under the radar the most has to be Darrell Taylor,” Heaps said. “To me he’s the player that stands out to me the most.”

Taylor was selected with the 48th overall pick in 2020 after a standout career at Tennessee, where he thrived as a pass rusher and tallied 19.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss in 38 career games.

Taylor fills a key need for any team with his pass-rush ability, but there’s another key reason he’s Heaps’ pick.

“The reason why is he doesn’t come to the front of your mind because he didn’t play last year,” Heaps said. “How can you think of that person right away when they didn’t contribute last year?”

Yes, unfortunately Taylor spent his entire rookie season on the sideline due to a shin injury, and he only started practicing with the Seahawks during the playoffs. While he didn’t appear in any games, he’s still someone that the Seahawks, many fans and insiders like Heaps are high on heading into the 2021 season.

“This is a player that as we have highlighted again and again and again, they considered him with their first pick (in 2020),” Heaps said. “Instead of taking Jordyn Brooks, they were really considering taking Darrell Taylor. They value his talent that much.”

Now after missing all of 2020, Taylor has a chance to be an impact player for the Seahawks, but not as a typical defensive end.

Despite being drafted as an edge rusher, the Seahawks are having Taylor practice at strongside linebacker in addition to being a pass rusher. That’s a role that the Seahawks have utilized in the past, namely with 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin. Taylor was a standout at rookie minicamp while playing both linebacker and defensive end.

Heaps thinks Taylor, who stands 6 foot 4 and weighs 267 pounds, can thrive at both positions in 2021.

“To me he’s a player that’s under the radar and if he can come out and show and display that talent in (what is) his rookie year, basically … I will feel very confident in this defense because they are going to use him in a hybrid role,” he said. “Strongside linebacker, they’re going to use him at rushing the passer. I really truly believe that he will take over that Bruce Irvin role that they’ve had in the past and I think he could potentially be a perfect fit for that defense in that particular position.”

Listen to the full conversations from the second hour of Friday’s edition of Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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