Heaps: Why Seahawks are fired up about Darrell Taylor in training camp
There were a lot of high hopes last year for defensive end Darrell Taylor after the Seahawks made the Tennessee product their 2020 second-round pick and disclosed that they had even considered taking him in the first round.
Any hopes for his rookie season were dashed, however, as he never found his way onto the field due to a long recovery from leg surgery that he underwent after his final college game.
It may be time to revisit those high hopes, though.
Taylor is turning heads in Seahawks training camp, and he’s notably doing so at more than one position. Yes, he’s still in line to see time rushing the passer, but he’s also getting reps at Seattle’s strongside (SAM) linebacker spot, which is a combined role the Seahawks used in the past to success with one player in particular.
“They’re trying to mix it all together so (Taylor) can play both positions much like Bruce Irvin did during the Legion of Boom days,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps said on Tuesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy. “They already know what the role looks like, what they already have envisioned in terms of how it can be successful, and so I think that process is now just getting Darrell Taylor up to speed mentally so he can handle both aspects of it.”
Heaps, a former Seahawks quarterback, is hearing good things about Taylor’s progress in that respect, including from a perennial All-Pro.
“One of the impressions that I heard from (Taylor’s) teammates that blew me away was Bobby Wagner talking about how impressive he was not just physically on the field but mentally, as well,” Heaps said. “One of the biggest things that you are concerned about with somebody like Darrell Taylor, who is being asked to try out at the SAM linebacker position, is he’s not just coming in in his first year being asked to rush the quarterback, being asked to be an edge defender… Now he’s (at SAM linebacker) being asked to read keys, understand play-action, where he’s supposed to get to in his coverage assignments as well as holding the edge and rushing the passer.
“When you have the legend, you have the Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner giving you a nod like that, that means that you are doing a lot of things right in camp thus far.”
That’s not the only praise Heaps is hearing about Taylor.
“What I’ve heard from guys on the team, from people within the building, they are fired up about what Darrell Taylor has been able to do so far in camp,” he said. “He’s another guy that I cannot wait to get my eyes on in full pads. He has looked explosive, he has looked fast, he is a big dude out there on the edge. Let’s see what he does when he can finally kind of let it all go when the pads come on.”
While Taylor is making strides at the SAM spot, there is a battle for playing time going on in camp. Heaps shared his thoughts on how he thinks that will shake out between Taylor, veteran pass rusher Aldon Smith and third-year linebacker Cody Barton.
“I think when you’re looking at Aldon Smith, you’re looking at Cody Barton, there’s going to be a strong split of the reps between the three of them, but at the same time I think you’re going to see it narrowed down pretty quickly to Darrell Taylor and Aldon Smith here in the next week or so.”
You can listen to Heaps on Taylor and much more in the Four-Down Territory segment in the podcast at this link or in the player below.