The Seahawks made a trade Friday to add more help to their defense, moving up in the second round to select University of Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor with the 48th overall pick.
To acquire that pick, the Seahawks sent Pick No. 59 to the New York Jets, as well as the compensatory pick Seattle held at the end of the third round, No. 101 overall.
Taylor, who is 6-foot-4, 267 pounds, led the Volunteers with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss last season, and also had 46 tackles and four pass breakups. He also had eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018. While Taylor wasn't the first pass-rusher taken in this draft, he says he's a defensive end who can do it all who hopes to be the best of this class.
"I think I'm really great in the pass rush," he said. "I have a really good long arm stab and I can use speed and power moves so I think I bring a lot to the table. I have power, I have speed. I think I need to get better at using my hands and being more technical with that. Being coached up by the guys in Seattle, I think they'll help me do that and now help me be the best pass rusher that the NFL will see this rookie season. I think I bring I lot to the table. I can run, I can cover, I can do whatever you ask a linebacker for and a defensive end. I can do it all and I think that's what I bring to the table for Seattle."
And for as productive as Taylor was last year, he wasn't at his best, playing through a stress fracture in his lower leg that led to offseason surgery and him being unable to participate in the combine.
"I still had an impressive year, but I think it could have been better if it wasn't there obviously," he said. "I played through it and I think I had a pretty good season. I made the decision to play in my bowl game and that was one of the best decisions I made because it was the last game that I got to play with my teammates and it was a really cool to have that moment and win that game and to have that experience. Now I'm just trying to get ready to do what I do when I get to Seattle and I'm excited about it and the journey I'm about to take that's in front of me… I think the surgery helped me a lot, my body feels so much better and my body is headed in the right direction of healing and everything going through that progression. My rehab is going really great. I'm ready to get back to 100 percent so I can contribute to my team."
In addition to getting a productive pass rusher, the Seahawks are also getting in Taylor a young man with a lot more perspective on life than most people his age. Taylor's father was incarcerated at a young age, then when Taylor was a sophomore in high school, his mother, Peggy, from whom he said he gets his athletic ability, died from breast cancer, leading to what he described a rough year in which he did not play football. Taylor is also the father of a 1-year-old son, Ka'marii.
"When I'm not doing football, I'm trying to spend as much time with him as I possibly can," Taylor said. "I think it's been a great experience being a father and learning how to become a man each and every day and how to be a father to him each and every day. I think it's been a great experience being able to play college football, work on my academics and be a father to my son Ka'marii.
"I've learned how to be patient with him teach him things that my dad wasn't around to teach me when I was younger. Just being able to be there for him through everything, whatever he needs and being able to be his father figure because I am his father. Just being there with him every step of the way, that's what means the most to me."
Taylor is the second defensive player selected by the Seahawks with as many picks, joining first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, a linebacker from Texas Tech.
Here is the Seahawks' eight-player 2020 draft class:
- Round 1, No. 27 overall: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
- Round 2, No. 48 overall: DE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
- Round 3, No. 69 overall: G Damien Lewis, LSU
- Round 4, No. 133 overall: TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford
- Round 4, No. 144 overall: RB DeeJay Dallas, Miami
- Round 5, No. 148 overall: DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
- Round 6, No. 214 overall: WR Freddie Swain, Florida
- Round 7, No. 251 overall: WR Stephen Sullivan, LSU