With Lamarcus Joyner departing from the Los Angeles Rams organization this free agency, the Rams signed Eric Weddle to come in and solidify the safety position. Yet, the Rams still need to add depth to the safety group and find a long term answer while Weddle’s career is winding down. Taylor Rapp, from the University of Washington, would be a great fit for the Rams during the 2019 NFL Draft.
College stats and honors:
2018: 59 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 sacks, 7 pass deflections and 3 fumble recoveries.
Career: 171 tackles, 7 interceptions, 14 pass deflections and 3 fumble recoveries.
Honors: All Pac-12 First Team 2017 & 2018, Pac-12 freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
Rapp has great instincts, especially when he’s closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s an excellent run stopping safety and can be effective when rushing the quarterback. Rapp displayed his quickness at the NFL combine, clocking a 6.82 three cone drill (third best time among safeties). In pass defense, Rapp is best at zone coverage. His football IQ and quickness helps him to excel when playing to that responsibility. He reads the quarterback’s eyes well and stays disciplined in his responsibilities.
Rapp did benefit from his positional coach, Jimmy Lake by opting not to redshirt him. Lake was a defensive backs coach in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions from 2006-2011. Rapp did start his freshman year at Washington. Rapp is a durable athlete, only missing one game due to injury, which is the 2019 Rose Bowl.
Rapp has limitations when it comes to playing man-to-man coverage and playing deep. He isn’t going to be the fastest guy on the field and will struggle to stay with a receiver one-on-one. Rapp also shows some stiffness in his lower body that teams were able to exploit, when he covered deep. This means he’s more of a fit for the strong safety position in the NFL.
The Rams did play Johnson at strong safety, but he is more natural at free safety. While Weddle and Johnson are likely the day one starters, Rapp could sit behind them and learn both positions as he gets accumulated to the NFL and could end up being a future starter.
Expected Draft Round:
Rapp is expected to be one of the first safeties taken in this years draft making him a low first round pick or high second round pick. Should the Rams be taking aim at Rapp at 31? Personally, I would like to see Les Snead trade a few spots down to grab a few extra draft selections and get Rapp early in the second. Rapp could be on the radar of a handful of teams that pick early on in the second round like Arizona, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. So, Snead will have to play it smart if this is the guy they want for their first draft pick.