After sitting out the entire 2020 season, Seahawks defensive end Darrell Taylor is expected to participate in the team's upcoming rookie minicamp starting on Friday.
Previously starring at Tennessee, Taylor originally underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his shin months before the 2020 NFL Draft. Seattle brought him in for a visit shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began and per general manager John Schneider, the organization's medical staff felt comfortable enough with his recovery that he traded up in the second round to select him.
Unfortunately, Taylor opened training camp on the Non-Football Injury list and remained there for the duration of the regular season due to numerous setbacks. He finally hit the practice field for the first time in January as the Seahawks began preparation for a wild card matchup against the Rams, but a quick playoff exit prevented him from having a shot at making his debut.
It will be interesting to see what Seattle plans to do with a healthy Taylor heading into the 2021 season. Shortly after being drafted, coach Pete Carroll characterized him as the ideal LEO defensive end with plans of starting him there. But the team re-signed Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa in March while also signing Aldon Smith in free agency, creating a logjam at the position.
Given Taylor's prior background playing linebacker for two seasons for the Volunteers in the rugged SEC, Carroll told reporters after the 2021 NFL Draft concluded that with K.J. Wright remaining unsigned, he could be in consideration to see snaps at strongside linebacker position.
"Darrell does give us some flexibility," Carroll commented. "We saw him in college play on the edge quite a bit where he did some drops and he was in coverage. We have that as part of what we’re counting on as he comes to us and we get him out there on the field and kind of fit him in. But we do still have to kind of uncover some of that because we have not had a real chance to really get the work that we need to make those assessments. But he's a very versatile football player and we’re wide open to whatever he can do."
This weekend's upcoming minicamp likely won't shed much light - if any - on what Seattle intends to do with Taylor. Per NFL rules, all on-field work must be non-contact oriented and due to COVID-related restrictions for tryout players, the team likely won't have enough players to do 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drill work anyway.
Regardless, after a long wait, the Seahawks will be happy to get a decent look at Taylor on the practice field as well as incoming draft picks D'Wayne Eskridge, Tre Brown, and Stone Forsythe. In addition to those three names, the team reportedly signed 12 undrafted free agents, added German linebacker Aaron Donkor through the International Player Pathway Program, and also signed four other non-rookies who will be eligible to partake in the workouts.