The Seahawks were up to their old tricks on Day Two the NFL Draft moving up and grabbing Tennessee Edge rusher Darrell Taylor then moving down and picking LSU guard Damien Lewis. Here is what Pete Carroll and John Schneider had to say about their two draft picks on Day Two of the draft.
(On how Darrell Taylor is against the run)
Carroll: “He’s very aggressive. He’s been a good tackler. He’s strong at the point of attack, he holds the edge which is what those guys are asked to do. Their place is to hold the edge and really attack the tackle or the tight end that they’re playing on. There will be featured edge players that as the game continues to widen and spread and the perimeter attack seems to continue to grow, those guys are more factors so it was a really important pick for us to get. We love to have a rotation of those guys so we keep those guys fresh and their motor burning. Everything about it fits just right.”
(On the biggest challenge to getting someone like Darrell Taylor ready to contribute to the team)
Carroll: “He’s played against that good competition and he really has rushed against the best tackles and had that opportunity. That’s really the biggest challenge is the level of play is so much more consistent and the style of players and the size of the guys that he’ll play consistently. But he’s gone up against the best so that adds to the ability to evaluate him clearly. His willingness to keep fighting the fight because it’s hard, you rush hundreds of times just to get those couple of pressures as they come along. You have to keep battling. He looks like he has a good motor, his consistency is there and he’s a very competitive kid. He’ll just bring that fight and he won’t have any trouble learning what we’re asking him. He’s already knows how to play the edge position, he’s been coached well. He just needs to learn his assignments and adapt and then be ready to adapt to the level of play and the consistency of how good that is. He’s going to be fine, he’s been set up really well to do well here.”
(On how raw Darrell Taylor is as a player and if that’s a risk for the coaching staff)
Carroll: “He played such a good schedule. He showed against the best. He’s really physical, like John said, his stature really helps him to play with great leverage. He’s really a powerful guy. We have no problem. He was consistent, the coaches loved him, [he’s a] leader, tough, culture setter, kind of all of the positive things that you want. Our entire staff loved the guy because of his aggressiveness and toughness. He’s really going to make it tough on guys. He’s going to battle and compete right from day one for his play time. That just makes us better. I don’t think that there’s any, there’s no question in the process. Two full years of playing is plenty of time to see him.”
(On if they see Damien Lewis being able to work at center or primarily just at right guard)
Schneider: “It’s easier for us to just project that. We saw him do that for 22 straight starts playing big time football. Or big boy football as Aaron Hineline, our area scout, calls it. He had fallen in love with him and Scott Fitterer, the guys that had gone into the school. He’s a self-made guy, a [junior college] guy from Mississippi. He just rode the bus from his apartment to school every day. There’s just so many cool things about the guy. He’s so stout, he’s so heavy with his hands, he’s got a great anchor, he’s got really good eyes and you can see him play against top level competition. It makes the evaluation that much easier. He has taken some snaps at center but obviously it’s easier for us to see him and competing at right guard.”
(On it being a plus that Damien Lewis wanted to come to the Seahawks)
Schneider: “Yeah all three of them were. When Darrell [Taylor] left the building that day, he said I really hope this works out. He played ball with Khalil McKenzie who’s on our team, Reggie McKenzie’s son. So we had some really good inside scoop on him too. And quite frankly with Darrell, I think that it helped us that we were one of the few teams who were able to have our medical staff really get into it and put their hands on him and evaluate him further.”
(On how they view Damien Lewis as a pass protector)
Schneider: “He’s got good legs for a guy who’s not ideally as tall as some would like. Personally, I like it because he plays with great leverage and he’s a real stout dude. No one really walks him back. He’s very aggressive. He’s got great eyes and, again, he’s played against the best players in the country
(On if they see Damien Lewis competing with D.J. Fluker right away)
Carroll: “Yeah he will. He won’t take a back seat to anybody. He’s going to come in here and battle for it. We feel really good. That’s really part of the reason why we took him. We want him to come in here and battle to play. All of that competition will make us better.”
ON THE CHARACTER OF THE TWO PLAYERS DRAFTED
(On the perseverance that the draft picks so far have gone through and how actively they look for that in draft prospects)
Schneider: “I think from day one, we’ve always talked about trying to build a football team that could go play anywhere. If it was in a park or a street or a football stadium, wherever. When we look at these guys, to have that grit level, in our minds, they have to be willing to overcome some sort of obstacle. All three of these gentlemen have. Darrell Taylor is a very talented pass rusher. He could’ve very easily shut it down with his stress fracture and he ended up, even with that, fighting through that.
But he wouldn’t have been able to do that if he hadn’t overcome so many things in his past before this past season. He’s grown a lot. Everybody talks about how he’s matured as man at the school. Jason Barnes got to know him very well. Jason covers the Midwest for us. He just stayed in touch with him. Like I said, we had a great visit with him. There’s a whole bunch of people, we’ve learned about grit more and more and more every year and we focus on it. It’s just a never-ending study. It’s a good question.”
Carroll: “These guys’ life experiences mold you, one way or the other. The guys that have been able to have the support when they needed it or just the ‘stick-to-it-ness’ when they were up against the big challenges. If they make it through it, it makes them stronger. These guys have all been guys that they were probably pretty ready to tell you about their story and they let you know about their background and I think it’s a clear statement about how the challenging and difficult times can really make you stronger and make you better. And these guys are examples of that.
If they learn the lessons, then they bring along that willfulness that can make them unique and special and we really feel like these guys can all come in with a chip on their shoulder, they’ve got something to prove, they’re not going to be denied, they’re not going to let anybody get in their way and take it away from them. I’m sure you heard that from Jordyn [Brooks] last night. I think John has really made it important to the scouts to understand these guys and know and understand the impact that their lives have had so that they can contribute to us. We’re thrilled about these guys. These are the kind of guys that you want to build a team with.”
(On how many players they had in before the quarantine started and what was distinctive about Darrell Taylor’s visit that was decisive in choosing him)
Schneider: “I think we had only two or three. We had a couple of veterans in for physicals that same day so I’m trying to remember exactly how many guys. The fact that he could jump from room to room, he could go to Pete’s office to my office to the equipment room to the training room and spend time with our [doctors] and spend time with our defensive staff, the [defensive] line coach, coach Hurtt, he just handled himself very well and was excited to be there. We ended up having lunch with him that day too a couple of us. He just did a great job. He was just a very impressive young man with an edge and a chip and he’s mad that he didn’t have a better season. This guy, who knows, if he’s healthy this year where we’re talking about drafting him.”
(On how they evaluate grit and perseverance in players in this draft considering the shortened and different offseason)
Schneider: “Absolutely, it’s been a big issue for us. It’s been a primary part of our scouting philosophy this year anyways. And now especially with acquisition, it’s all about the guys that can come in here and contribute right away. Again, having a pass rusher being able to come in, spend time with our [doctors] again, an extra time, and be around our coaches, that made us feel all that much more positive about [Darrell Taylor’s] football knowledge and everything they asked him to do there. He had to do a little bit more than the normal rusher. He could explain the schemes and everything that he was doing. We’re excited to get him in here and get him going and all the guys. It’s been a focus for us no matter what. Yeah, we want to have guys that we know can come in and don’t necessarily need a ton of hand holding.”
(On how long it takes for college players who come into the NFL to become independent and not need as much hand holding)
Carroll: “It really depends on the guy. It’s just an individual thing. It depends on the development, it depends on what he was like when he went into school and all that, what was the process like, what did he overcome. It just depends. There’s not really a set time. I don’t think guys really start turning the corner until about 24 or 25 years old, truly. But there’s always guys ahead of the curve on that. So it just depends. And that’s why all of the work that John does, and all of his guys, is so crucial. Our coaches try to top it off at the end of the process, but our guys go all the way back to seeing these guys as underclassmen and then they see them come out of their junior years or the year before to try and understand how far they have come. Some programs are different than others and they demand their guys to come further, sooner, which we understand. There’s just no set way, there’s no set time.”
(On if players come in wanting to learn because the Seahawks have done the background on them as individuals and not just football players)
Carroll: “We do have a pretty general response from players on the outside looking in at us that they are curious, they do want to see what we’re all about, they’ve heard this or that about us. Hopefully when they come to meet our folks and they get a sense for the environment and the energy, like we talked about with [Darrell Taylor], he came in here and he could really feel it. He felt everyone’s willingness to accept him immediately and that’s part of the culture. I think it’s all a part of trying to nurture our great environment so they can excel in it and do really well. Part of that is helping them feel comfortable where they can adapt quickly and they’re not waiting and wondering what’s going on.
We try to embrace these guys right from the moment they get here and open up to them so that they can be receptive too so that we can really take them to their furthest reaches. I think it’s all connected. The challenges that they’ve faced are one thing. That’s their tremendous individual accomplishment. And it’s on us to figure out how we can communicate with them based on where they’re coming from and what they’re looking for or what’s important to them, all of that. That’s all a part of our discovery process so that we can reach these guys and do some really cool things with them. I think it’s all a part of the environment that we’ll hopefully continue to make it a good one so these guys can flourish.”