That's how long it's been since Darrell Taylor was drafted by the Seahawks. They fell in love with Taylor's potential and hammered out a trade with the Jets to move up to pick No. 48 in the 2020 NFL Draft, getting their guy.
Since then, it has been a long, gruelling journey for the Tennessee product. Taylor watched, frustrated, from the sidelines or at home as Seattle played his entire rookie season without him while he nursed a stress fracture in his leg—an injury he suffered in his final year in college.
The coaches and training staff tried to get him on the field in 2020, giving him injections to aid the healing as well as a demanding rehab regimen.
Both sides worked tirelessly to get Taylor in playing shape. As the calendar turned to the 2021 season, optimism ran rampant through camp about Taylor's potential at a multitude of defensive spots. However, it was a hesitant optimism until he played in a live game scenario against a real opponent. He and the Seahawks had to be sure before he let loose.
Taylor likely felt as the legendary Freddie Mercury did when he sang, "But I have to be sure, when I walk out that door, oh how I want to be free, baby, oh how I want to be free, oh how I want to break free."
Taylor, as any football player would, was foaming at the mouth and chomping at the bit to get out on the gridiron once more.
Finally, on Saturday, he broke free at last.
"It was electrifying, satisfying, gratifying," Taylor said following the Seahawks' preseason opener against the Raiders on Saturday. "It was everything I hoped it would be. This year, I'm ready to go."
Taylor didn't just play—he played like a man with vengeance in his heart. At times, he was wild and wasn't as refined in his pass rushing lanes but the talent and pure athleticism was as present as ever. He finished with three tackles, but there was so much more to his performance than the stat sheet.
The 24-year old routinely interrupted Las Vegas' plans in the backfield. He missed at least two sacks by mere inches due to a less-than-perfect attack angle, something that can absolutely be remedied with coaching and game experience.
Coming out of Tennessee, pundits praised his burst, quickness and athleticism in the trenches as well as out in space. Clearly, the Seahawks value his versatility, viewing him as a strongside linebacker as well as a valued pass rusher. He looks like a prototypical LEO defender but has the skills and athleticism to be more.
Saturday was just the tip of the iceberg. That was the version of Taylor who hadn't played live football in almost two years. Wait until he gets his legs under him and adjusts to the game speed one can only see in the NFL. It could be a mercurial rise.