Former Tennessee Vols edge rusher Darrell Taylor was the Seattle Seahawks’ second selection in the 2020 NFL Draft (No. 48 overall), but he could still end up making a big impact as a rookie.
In fact, ESPN’s Brady Henderson thinks Taylor will have a bigger impact for Seattle than their first round selection, linebacker Jordyn Brooks.
Here’s what Henderson had to say about Taylor:
Taylor gets the nod because he projects to at least be a regular in the Seahawks’ pass-rush rotation, whereas the others’ paths to playing time are less clear if they don’t start. Recent history tells us that an eight-sack rookie season would be asking a lot from Taylor. Something like what Rasheem Green produced in 2019 — four sacks on roughly 34 snaps per game — is more realistic. Then again, Taylor’s chief competition for playing time at Leo end is veteran Benson Mayowa, who has never started more than six games in a season and didn’t make any starts last year. So it wouldn’t be a shock if Taylor factors in more than that.
It sounds like the opportunity will certainly be there for Taylor to excel as a rookie.
Henderson, however, is correct that rookie edge rushers don’t typically have a huge rookie seasons.
If Taylor finishes with four sacks as a rookie, it would be similar to the rookie stats put up by premier pass rushers like Khalil Mack (4 sacks as a rookie), JJ Watt (5.5 sacks as a rookie) and Danielle Hunter (6 sacks as a rookie). So even if Taylor doesn’t blow up as a rookie, it doesn’t mean he can’t be elite at the next level.
The Seahawks viewed Taylor as a first round talent (they were one of the few teams that actually got to meet with the former Vol), which is why they traded up to get him in in the second round.
With clear path to early playing time, it’s definitely possible that Taylor could become a key contributor for Seattle as a rookie.
Either way, I think we’ll see the Virginia native enjoy a solid NFL career. Taylor has the tools needed to be an elite pass rusher, and I think we all know how difficult it can be to find a player who can consistently get after the quarterback.
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