“My name’s Sean Taylor, and I’m the hardest hitter in the draft.”
Indeed. With every hit inflicted on an unsuspecting wide receiver crossing over the middle, or every Pro Bowl punter foolishly attempting to run on a trick play, there was the brutal and inevitable contact. The echo of the pads clapping together always lingered. So too did the fear of Taylor on the field. He wasn’t just the hardest hitter in the draft. He was the hardest hitter in the NFL.
Of all the devastating hits distributed by Sean Taylor over his four-year career, however, no blow hit harder than the one dealt on the morning of November 27, 2007, when it was announced that Taylor had died from a gunshot wound sustained in a home invasion the day before.
Taylor only spent four years with the Redskins before his life was cut short. But the impact of his time there is extraordinary. Beyond words. It wasn’t just the player, but the enigma, and the growth of that enigma over time, that made his journey so alluring to so many fans. Ask them today who their favorite player in team history is. You know what they’ll say.
As a player, Taylor was captivating enough. Standing at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and possessing the speed and instincts to cover the whole length of the field in the blink of an eye and play the ball, Taylor was a prospect far, far ahead of his time. The Redskins were well aware of this, and when he fell to the No. 5 overall pick, they swiped him away.
It took time for Taylor to grow accustomed to the NFL, and all the publicity it carried to him, but from the day he joined Washington, he was the best football player on the field. Over his time with the team, he logged 238 tackles,12 interceptions, 43 pass deflections and eight forced fumbles. He came to be known as ‘The Meast’; half-man, half-beast. It was a name that suited him well.
By 2007, Taylor, in just four seasons, had already gone to the Pro Bowl twice, as well as garnered All-Pro honors once. He was bound to have an unparalleled career ahead. But life, in its chaotic indifference, had other plans.
Some will say that Darrell Green should be at No. 1 on this list. And he has a compelling argument. Green played with the Redskins for almost two decades. Green had 54 career interceptions. And yes, Green has a gold jacket.
Despite all this, Taylor, based on ability, based on potential and based on impact, is the best Redskins draft pick in history. Respect factors into this pick, to an extent, but we all know, had Taylor been given a chance to continue his career, he would have been the greatest. So we’ll put him here, anyway.