Over the past two seasons, the Seattle Seahawks have used four draft picks during the first two rounds on potential impact defensive players. The players selected have included defensive lineman L.J. Collier and safety Marquise Blair in 2019, along with linebacker Jordyn Brooks and defensive end Darrell Taylor this past April. Neither Collier nor Blair had as much of an impact on the field as many fans had hoped during the 2019 season, though reports in training camp so far regarding the potential for Blair to be a significant contributor on defense this season have been extremely optimistic.
That said, the indications from training camp regarding this year’s top two draft picks have been split as well. While Brooks was held out of camp for a couple of days with a groin issue, Pete Carroll and other members of the staff have provided significant praise for his performances. On the flip side, Taylor hasn’t had a chance to showcase what he can do as he remains on the Non-Football Injury list while recovering from surgery to address a stress fracture he played through at Tennessee during the 2019 season. Head coach Pete Carroll had stated earlier in training camp that it would be a challenge for Taylor to be ready to play for Week 1, and on Sunday Carroll repeated that sentiment.
Rookie DE Darrell Taylor is "still a few weeks away," Pete Carroll said. "It’s going to be hard for him to make the opener." Carroll notes Taylor has been away for a few days for the birth of a child.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) August 30, 2020
With less than two weeks until the Seahawks are set to travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, the fact that Taylor remains “a few weeks away” certainly seems to indicate that Taylor will be moved to the NFI list to start the regular season. While that would certainly be a setback to hopes that Taylor could step in and contribute to improving the pass rush early in his rookie season, it likely won’t preclude any late season contributions.
The question, of course, would be how well Taylor is able to stay in shape and whether he has lost any muscle mass, such as was the case with Ziggy Ansah during 2019. Specifically, with Taylor not yet cleared to run as of a couple of weeks ago, it could take some time for him to get into game shape once he is cleared for that kind of activity. That said, depending on how well he has been able to stay in shape and maintain strength as he recovers from January surgery, Taylor could represent an injection of fresh legs on the defensive line for the stretch run.
Thus, while fans will certainly be disappointed by Taylor’s likely lack of availability early in the season, it won’t diminish the possibility of him making a significant impact later in the season. It’s certainly not the start to his Seahawks career the team or fans had hoped for, but it’s obviously more important to get his leg healthy in order to prevent having to repeat the procedure performed back in January.