STACY ROST

Seahawks rookie profile: Darrell Taylor ‘the edge rusher they wanted all along’

May 7, 2020, 11:59 PM | Updated: May 18, 2020, 10:37 am
Seahawks DE Darrell Taylor...
Darrell Taylor joins the Seahawks as a second-round pick out of Tennessee. (AP)
(AP)

This Seahawks offseason on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy, we’ve been focusing on one single question: How can the Seahawks make it back to a Super Bowl in 2020? We tried to answer that in February by identifying five priorities for this team: pass rush help, offensive line help, more weapons around Russell Wilson, team speed, and taking a hard look at scheme.

3 Takes: The Seahawks player you’re rooting for the most in 2020

We decided to return to those five priorities – and that one big question – during each of our offseason spotlights. The first phase focused on Seahawks free agents, the second on outside free agents, the third on draft prospects, and finally, this month’s phase: draft picks.

Jake Heaps continued this month’s offseason spotlights with Seattle’s second pick of the 2020 NFL Draft: Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor. Listen to the full segment right here on the Tom, Jake and Stacy podcast page.

What you need to know

The Seahawks needed to address their pass rush in the draft – after finishing 29th in sacks, 26th in quarterback pressures, and 27th in opposing passing yards per game, that much was obvious.

It seemed likely they’d do that by re-signing free agent Jadeveon Clowney but the former No. 1 overall pick remains on the market, and Seattle’s best offer may no longer be on the table. Part of that could be because Seattle moved on and decided to pay two other veteran pass rushers in Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin. It could also be that they like the young talent they acquired in last month’s draft.

The Seahawks clearly found a player they believe in with Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor. Not only did Seattle trade up from No. 59 to select him at No. 48 overall, but general manager John Schneider said the Seahawks considered drafting Taylor in the first round.

“He’s not a name that was widely thrown out there during the draft process,” Heaps said of Taylor. “But he was a guy who I’d heard his name come up quite a bit linking to the Seahawks. I profiled him the day before because of that. When I first evaluated him, I saw him as a 3-4 linebacker, not necessarily as a straight-up edge rusher who could put his hand in the ground and play that LEO position for the Seahawks. But one thing I think everyone needs to know is the Seahawks knew the edge rusher they wanted all along.”

How does he help the Seahawks in 2020?

Taylor’s best chance to contribute comes at Seattle’s greatest need: pass rush.

“He had one of the highest pressure percentages in all of college football last year,” Heaps said. “His mentality, his edge, the physical traits, when you talk about watching this last game in 2012 we watched last night – the edge, the tenacity, the fire – Taylor’s got that. He’s not (No. 2 overall pick) Chase Young; he’s not going to be this day one difference maker… but he has all the attributes and strengths you’d look for in that LEO position.”

The big question

How soon can Taylor adjust to the NFL, especially if 2020 is a shortened offseason?

Rookie or not, the Seahawks need contributions from their offseason acquisitions. In a division with ever-improving offenses, Seattle’s defense can’t afford the same kind of sack production it had in 2019.

Taylor was lauded for his athleticism, but will this year’s abbreviated offseason give him enough time to refine his pass rushing moves and begin his transition to the NFL?

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

Previously in the Seahawks rookie profile series

How does first-round pick Jordyn Brooks fit in on defense?

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Seahawks rookie profile: Darrell Taylor ‘the edge rusher they wanted all along’