In continuing to break their trend of trading down, the Seattle Seahawks packaged a pair of picks to trade up in the draft last Friday.
Seattle addressed its pass-rush needs by trading its second-round pick and its third-round compensatory pick (101st overall) to the New York Jets to move up to the No. 48 pick and selected defensive end Darrell Taylor Jr. out of Tennessee.
After trading Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs and getting little from free agent Ziggy Ansah, the Seahawks produced a woeful pass rush last season even with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney. The 28 total team sacks was the second lowest in the NFL, with only the tanking Miami Dolphins registering fewer with 23.
With Clowney still unsigned, Seattle brought back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin and another former Seahawk in Benson Mayowa to add to their depth on the defensive line. Neither are game-changing types as pass rushers, but can be effective in the right circumstances.
The last three times the Seahawks have traded up under general manager John Schneider, they picked wide receiver Tyler Lockett in 2015, defensive tackle Jarran Reed in 2016 and wide receiver D.K. Metcalf in 2019.
Let’s get to know Taylor a little better:
Name: Darrell Taylor Jr.
The Skinny: Taylor, who has drawn comparisons to Clark by several draft analysts and scouts, could bring a level of explosiveness that the defensive ends on the roster simply don’t possess. He is still raw in terms of pass-rush moves and counter moves to blockers, but the initial explosion off the line is special. The pass-rush skills can be refined with proper coaching. Clark was far from a finished product when Seattle took him in the second round of the 2015 draft, tallying just three sacks his first season. But he bounced up to 10 the following season. Seattle may need to rely on Taylor a little more this season.
There is a question about his health, having undergone surgery for a stress fracture in his left leg in January. Per Taylor’s Instagram, he played the entire season with the injury. The surgery prevented him from participating at the NFL combine other than interviewing with teams.
Despite the pain in his shin, Taylor registered 46 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks (second most in the SEC) with four base breakups, six QB hurries, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble in 13 games. He also had eight sacks and 11 tackles for a loss as a junior.
Taylor lost his mother, Peggy, to breast cancer in 2013 when he was sophomore at Hopewell High School in Virginia.