The Seattle Seahawks desperately needed pass rushing help in the 2020 offseason. On Friday night, they traded up in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft to address that need, and they did so by drafting a Tennessee Vol.
Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor became the first Vol to be taken in the NFL Draft since the 2018 draft when the Seahawks selected him with the 48th overall pick in the second round on Friday night. Seattle couldn’t wait any longer to draft Taylor, trading up from the 59th overall pick to the 48th, sending the New York Jets their second round pick and their compensatory pick in the third round, the No. 101 overall selection.
After Seattle made their pick, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll called Taylor to welcome him to the team.
“Hey congratulations, man, how about that?” Carroll said over the phone to Taylor via a video from Tennessee’s official football Twitter account. “We were waiting for you the whole way through. We’ve been sweatin’ it out. We made a trade to get you, did you notice that?”
Time to take flight, @darrelltaylorst! ?@Seahawks // #PoweredByTheT pic.twitter.com/bcTFdxjkWl
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) April 25, 2020
Taylor is the second defensive player the Seahawks have drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. Seattle spent their first round pick on a defender, taking Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks with that selection.
Seattle had one of the lowest sack totals in the NFL in 2019, totaling just 28 in 16 regular season games. That finished tied with the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions for the second-fewest in the league. Only the Miami Dolphins had fewer on the season (23).
Assuming Taylor remains healthy with the Seahawks, he should be able to help bolster their edge rushing ability in the coming years.
In his final season with the Vols, Taylor led the team in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (10). He finished tied for second in the SEC in sacks for the 2019 season and was an honorable mention on the Pro Football Focus College All-SEC team.
After redshirting in 2015, Taylor played in a reserve role in 2016, totaling nine tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass defended. But in his final three years with the Vols — particularly his last two seasons — Taylor was the Vols’ best pass rusher.
From 2017-19, Taylor totaled 19.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, 109 tackles, six passes defended, six forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries in 35 total games. He finished his Vol career with the 10th-most sacks in a career, and he played in 43 games in four seasons.
Taylor became the first Vol since Derek Barnett in 2017 to be taken in the first 50 picks of the NFL Draft. Barnett was selected with the 14th overall pick in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 draft.