Darrell Taylor will have more pressure on him than any Seahawks rookie in the Pete Carroll era
The Seahawks need improvement in their pass rush more than any other area of their team in 2020. And while they’ve made some additions in free agency at the spot, they still don’t have the headlining defensive end many believe they must have going into next season.
So when they traded up Friday to select defensive end Darrell Taylor with the No. 48 overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft, it affixed a lot of high hopes onto the Tennessee Volunteers standout.
“He’s going to have the most pressure on him of any rookie I can remember in the Pete Carroll era, and that’s going to be whether he plays or not,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil said Monday of Taylor.
There’s a few reasons for that, O’Neil went on to explain.
“They targeted him, they moved up to get him,” O’Neil said as the first reason. “It’s not unheard of for Seattle, it is rare, and when they’ve done it, it’s tended to work out pretty well.”
And the second?
“This largely has nothing to do with him and it has everything to do with the position he plays. Seattle needs pass rush –they had 28 sacks last season, they were tied for second-fewest in the entire league – and the guy we considered the most disruptive pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, has been unsigned,” O’Neil said. “It’s not Darrell Taylor’s responsibility single-handedly, it’s not reasonable to expect him to fix that. However he is the (2020 Seahawks draft pick) who has the most immediate path to the field.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider told reporters after they picked Taylor that they actually considered taking him with their No. 27 overall selection in the first round, where they instead took Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. What Carroll said about Taylor, however, seemingly only adds to the pressure on Seattle’s new defensive end.
“Getting Darrell, that was a big deal because we thought maybe we had missed our chance in a sense and we really wanted to get him on the rush group,” Carroll said. “… That was a big pick for us.”
Paul Gallant, O’Neil’s co-host on Danny and Gallant, pointed to Carroll’s comments as part of why he’s personally looking forward to seeing Taylor on the field for Seattle.
“I’m excited about him because of what the Seahawks’ actions and words say about him,” Gallant said. “The action: They traded picks 59 and 101 – a second- and a third-round pick – to trade up and bring him aboard. And Pete Carroll, after the draft was done, said that he was surprised that they were even able to get Darrell Taylor when they did.”
As it stands, Taylor may have as much of a chance to be the No. 1 pass rusher on the Seahawks’ roster despite never having played a down in the pros.
“Who’s their starter at that ‘leo’ defensive end right now? Is it Benson Mayowa? Is it Bruce Irvin? Is it Rasheem Green?” asked O’Neil. “… There are going to be people who look to (Taylor) to be the immediate answer. Pressure doesn’t really have to do with what the coaches expect from you. Look, if they don’t get out rushing the passer right off the bat (in the 2020 season), if they’re lagging in the pass rush, the finger is going to be pointed squarely at him in a way that it hasn’t been for any other rookie that I can remember in Pete Carroll’s 10 years here.”
Brock Huard, a FOX college football analyst and fellow 710 ESPN Seattle host, said on Danny and Gallant that unless the Seahawks take money freed up by the releases of veteran offensive linemen D.J. Fluker and Justin Britt to get a headlining pass rusher, Taylor could indeed be thrown into the fire.
“We’ll see if Clowney gets signed or (free-agent defensive end) Everson Griffen, what they’re going to do with this cap space they just created. (The pressure on Taylor) can still be minimized a little bit,” Huard said. “You come up in the second round (to take Taylor) and you spend some draft capital. That’s a pretty needy spot there. I think there is an awful lot of pressure.”
The pick of Taylor reminds Huard of one Seattle made five years prior to get another pass rusher in the second round. But the situation Taylor is entering is quite different.
“(Taylor) profiles like Frank Clark. It was the same reaction when they drafted Frank Clark,” Huard said. “When they drafted Frank, I was like, man, I watched Frank a lot in college. He’s a good player but I never thought an elite player. But they looked at those traits. (NFL Network analyst) Daniel Jeremiah, if he said that once over three or four days, he said it a half-dozen times: There are certain teams that like their traits. And Darrell Taylor, he’s thick, strong, powerful, explosive, long, all those things that (the Seahawks) love, like they loved with Frank. And that’s why they were willing to take Frank (at 63rd overall) where others wouldn’t.
“To me, (Taylor) has to have the same kind of trajectory (as Clark). … Frank, though, had Cliff (Avril), (Michael) Bennett and other dudes around him. If they don’t make another move in free agency, you’re right, there’s going to be a lot more on Darrell Taylor’s shoulders to get done.”
More Seahawks draft analysis
• Jim Moore: 10 takeaways after Seahawks’ 2020 draft
• John Clayton: How the Seahawks’ 2020 draft class points to a transition
• Stacy Rost: Superlatives for the Seahawks’ 8-player 2020 NFL Draft class