Tennessee had been shut out of the NFL Draft in three of the last five years. But the Vols weren’t denied in the 2020 draft.
The Seattle Seahawks selected Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor with the 48th overall pick in the second round on Friday evening, making Taylor the first Vol drafted since Kahlil McKenzie was taken with the 198th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.
Taylor becomes the first Vol since Derek Barnett in the 2017 NFL Draft to be taken in the first 50 picks of the draft. Barnett went No. 14 overall in the first round to the Philadelphia Eagles in that draft.
Overall, Taylor is the first Vol to be selected in the second round since wide receiver Justin Hunter was drafted No. 34 overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2013 NFL Draft.
For the Seahawks, the 2020 draft marks the first time they have selected a Tennessee player since they took Rashad Moore with the No. 183 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2003 draft. Taylor is the seventh Vol to be drafted by Seattle since 1977, joining wide receiver Larry Seivers, running back Randall Morris, running back Johnnie Jones, defensive back Harian Davis, defensive back Steve Johnson, and Moore.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound edge rusher from Hopewell, Virginia capped off his Tennessee career with a productive senior season, leading the Vols in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (10). In his last two seasons with the Vols — both with Jeremy Pruitt as head coach — Taylor totaled 82 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 21 TFLs, four passes defended, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
Taylor finished his UT career with the 10th-most sacks in school history, amassing 19.5 in his four years at Tennessee. He finished with 26.5 TFLs and 118 total tackles in 43 games played.
Despite not being able to participate in the Senior Bowl or the 2020 NFL Combine — both of which Taylor was invited to — Taylor managed to climb up draft boards over the past couple weeks thanks to his strong senior film and the potential he’s shown as a pass rusher. Throw in the fact that Seattle was in desperate need for edge rushing help, and the Seahawks decided to pull the trigger in the second round.