Tough, Consistent Jamar Taylor Excelling as Seahawks Nickel Cornerback
During the dog days of summer, veteran defender Jamar Taylor quickly shot up the depth chart for the Seahawks as a potential replacement for Justin Coleman at nickel cornerback.
Originally signing with Seattle in May, Taylor impressed throughout offseason workouts and training camp, eventually starting multiple preseason games in August. A season-ending neck injury to Kalan Reed further bolstered his chances of winning the job and he looked to have it locked up heading into the exhibition finale.
Surprisingly, however, Taylor wasn’t retained when the Seahawks finalized roster cuts on August 31. Despite a strong showing throughout camp, the team decided to roll into the season with rookie Ugo Amadi and Akeem King as the primary options to play in the slot.
Seattle had its reasons for jettisoning Taylor, including avoiding a guaranteed veteran salary by not having him on the roster in Week 1. But all along, coach Pete Carroll kept his fingers crossed they’d be able to bring him back into the fold at a later date.
“We never know if we can get that done.” Carroll said on Wednesday. “We were tuned into it that it was possible. We had other stuff going on at the time that could change that.”
Fortuitously for the Seahawks, Taylor hadn’t yet signed with another team going into Week 2, though he did have a workout scheduled with another team. When his former employer called with an opportunity to return, he didn’t hesitate and immediately hitched a flight back to Seattle.
Since re-signing, Taylor has dressed for each of the Seahawks past four games, including seeing a season-high 34 defensive snaps against the Rams last Thursday night. With Ken Norton Jr.’s defense relying less heavily on its base 4-3 look than prior games, he made two key pass deflections in coverage and forced quarterback Jared Goff into a couple of rushed throws as a blitzer from the slot.
“He’s been working really hard.” Norton Jr. commented. “He’s really been mastering his craft. He’s a guy that we saw early on in camp when we brought him in. He was going to compete for the job. Opportunity arises. He showed up and he made his plays.”
Before arriving in Seattle, the former Boise State standout started 29 games for Cleveland during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, producing 119 tackles and three interceptions. Though he’s far from a grizzled vet and has contributed on the field when given the chance, his experience has also served him well as a mentor for an otherwise young secondary.
“He’s a real accomplished vet for our team. We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team and the fact that he had been around some, it shows. It’s helped us some. He’s helped the young guys and he’s worked with guys.”
It remains to be seen how much, or how little, Taylor will factor into Seattle’s defensive game plan on Sunday against his former team. But Cleveland does have several outstanding receivers at quarterback Baker Mayfield’s disposal, including Jarvis Landry, who primarily runs route out of the slot.
Last season, Landry was targeted 94 times from the slot, tied for the most among NFL receivers according to Next Gen Stats. So far this season, he’s already caught 22 passes for 203 yards and his presence could force the Seahawks to play more nickel defense to compensate.
If that strategy comes to fruition, the tough, consistent, assignment-sound Taylor has already proven he’ll be ready to rock under any circumstances and the Seahawks are confident in his ability to execute when called upon.