Heaps: Seahawks’ pass rush will improve because of Darrell Taylor

Feb 23, 2022, 12:43 PM

Seahawks DE Darrell Taylor...

Davis Mills of the Houston Texans is tackled by Darrell Taylor of the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Seahawks disappointed in 2021 when it came to their pass rush, with only three players recording more than two sacks as the team finished the regular season tied for 22nd in the NFL in sacks.

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Two of those players were more veteran edge defenders – Carlos Dunlap (8.5 sacks) and pending free agent Rasheem Green (6.5 sacks) – but the third was especially a bright spot for the Seahawks considering he had yet to play an NFL snap before the season.

That edge rusher is Darrell Taylor, Seattle’s 2020 second-round pick. Taylor was drafted with the hope that he’d be a contributor right away, and while he did contribute immediately when he was on the field, it came a full year after he was drafted as a shin injury resulted in Taylor missing his entire rookie season.

With a full season under his belt and his potential on full display in 2021, Taylor is someone who former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps is very excited to see take the field in 2022.

“I am anxious to see the pass rush improve, and a big reason why I believe it will improve is because of Darrell Taylor,” Heaps said Wednesday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

In 16 games for the Seahawks in 2021, Taylor recorded 6.5 sacks, 13 QB hits and seven tackles for loss while playing 46% of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps. His 6.5 sacks were tied with Green for second on the team.

Taylor wasn’t technically a rookie in 2021, but the young edge defender did rank fourth in sacks among players playing their debut season in 2021. The three rookies who had more sacks than Taylor were Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys), Jaelen Phillips (Miami Dolphins) and Azeez Ojulari (New York Giants), and while they all appeared in at least 16 games like Taylor, they also each played a higher percentage of their teams’ defensive snaps.

Taylor may not have played as much or registered as many sacks as that rookie trio, but he’s still an exciting player heading into his second full NFL season, Heaps said.

“What I witnessed from Darrell Taylor this year was incredibly exciting. He got better as the season went on,” Heaps said. “… Darrell Taylor has a lot of twitch to his game. He is explosive off the line of scrimmage. He is somebody that can bend and get around the tackle and have that athletic ability to be able to get to the quarterback.”

Something else important about Taylor is while his pass rush skills stood out, he gradually improved in another key area as well.

“He was better as the season went on and progressed as a run defender,” Heaps said. “He brings that level of just nastiness on the football field where he can really provide some big hits out there on the field and change the complexion of the game. I think that Darrell Taylor is going to continue to get better as an all-around edge defender with his pass rush and as a run defender. He’s a big reason why I am optimistic for the Seattle Seahawks’ defense moving forward there.”

Jake and Stacy airs live Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can find podcasts of the whole show at this link, with new episodes going online at 3 p.m. daily.

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Heaps: Seahawks’ pass rush will improve because of Darrell Taylor