Which Seahawks player has the most to prove in 2024?

Jun 5, 2024, 1:33 PM

Seattle Seahawks Darrell Taylor Arizona 2022...

Darrell Taylor of the Seattle Seahawks chases Arizona QB Kyler Murray in 2022. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have a lot of players with things to prove this season.

One such player is edge rusher Darrell Taylor, who has had an up-and-down start to his career since Seattle selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft.

Can this Seahawks D-lineman be a difference-maker in 2024?

After missing his entire rookie season with a leg injury, Taylor has totaled 21.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles in 49 career games over the past three seasons. He is tied for the fourth-most sacks in his draft class, despite missing a full season. His best year came in 2022, when he posted a career-high 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

However, Taylor’s production regressed last season. He had just 5.5 sacks and received a career-low 50.9 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranked No. 103 out of 112 qualified edge defenders.

During Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday, Bob Stelton tabbed Taylor as the Seahawks player with the most to prove this fall. Seattle re-signed Taylor to a one-year deal in March, making this a major prove-it year for the 27-year-old.

“He’s gotta show something,” Stelton said. “Darrell Taylor’s a guy we’ve got excited about with his potential. We see this raw athletic ability, (but) he’s just really been a hard player to peg for me. He’ll have this game where you see those flashes of athleticism and see what he can do and what he’s capable of, and then you’ll go a stretch of games where you don’t even hear his name called.”

The biggest weakness in Taylor’s game is his run defense. Taylor received a PFF run defense grade of 45.9 last season, which ranked No. 106 out of 112 qualified edge defenders.

Co-host and former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman hopes new Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald – who has developed a reputation for being one of the league’s brightest defensive minds – can help bring the best out of Taylor.

“He can play the run,” Wyman said. “I’ve seen him do it a number of times. What he can’t do is do it consistently. And that’s where I feel like the coaching will really help him out. I feel like a lot of times he wasn’t getting coached the right way.

“A couple plays that really stood out to me were against the Ravens (last year). I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s like an outside linebacker, he’s taking on the pulling guard, he’s squaring him up, he’s staying in his gap.’ But then you see him get hooked by a wide receiver who’s like right there, right there in his vision. … So I guess the question is not whether he can play the run – it’s will he play the run? Is he going to be mentally disciplined enough to get that done?”

Wyman’s choice: Leonard Williams

Wyman picked defensive lineman Leonard Williams as the Seahawks player with the most to prove this season. After Seattle acquired Williams in a trade with the New York Giants last October, the 29-year-old veteran totaled four sacks and nine tackles for loss in 10 games with the Seahawks.

Seattle then re-signed Williams to a three-year, $64.5 million deal in March. His average annual contract value of $21.5 million ranks 11th in the NFL among interior defensive linemen, according to Over The Cap. Williams also has the second-highest 2024 salary cap hit on a Seahawks defense that’s looking to improve after ranking 24th in points allowed last season.

“He’s my answer, because he’s making so much money and he had a good year last year, but is he gonna be, like, entirely dominant?” Wyman said. “… Plus, I think (the answer) kind of has to be on the defensive side. I mean, that’s where the most urgency is.”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the audio player near the middle of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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