2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Taylor Rapp
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Florida and LSU fight over which school is known as "DBU," but another school that should factor into the equation is Washington. The Huskies have produced a lot of good NFL talent in recent years, and the 2019 NFL Draft could have multiple Huskies defensive backs go in the early rounds. Among them is junior safety Taylor Rapp, who was a 3-year starter. Rapp has received good preparation and coaching from Jimmy Lake, his defensive coordinator, who was a good defensive backs coach in the NFL. Given the weak class of safeties in the 2019 NFL Draft, Rapp could be one of the first safeties off the board in April.
With Budda Baker starting as the free safety, Rapp had a strong debut as a freshman starter. He totaled 53 tackles with two passes broken up, one forced fumble and four interceptions that season. In his sophomore year, Rapp recorded 59 tackles with two sacks and one interception. He then recorded 59 tackles with five sacks, four passes broken up and two interceptions in 2018 while playing well for Washington.
Rapp would fit best as a strong safety in the NFL and looks like he could be a starting strong safety early in his pro career. While he is not a thumper, Rapp has good instincts that turn him into a solid defender. His best attribute could be his blitzing, as he is very good at chasing down the quarterback. He is a quality tackler and run defender who plays well near the line of scrimmage. As a pro, Rapp should be a solid run defender and eighth man in the box.
Sources say that Rapp has some limitations in pass coverage. While he is not a throwaway in coverage, he does not have good range downfield and should not play deep consistently. He could function for a play or two, but he could be a liability downfield in deep coverage due to his range limitations if he is asked to play there a lot. He has some tightness in the lower leg and is not a safety who can contribute in man coverage. Thus, Rapp is more of a strong safety although some evaluators debate that.
In speaking to sources at five teams, they thought that Rapp would at worst be a second-round pick. A couple of teams had him graded as a late first-round, early second-round pick. Rapp has impressed evaluators with not only his play but also his makeup.
"I think [Rapp will] go higher second, and possibly late one because he is so clean and a top-character guy," said one NFC general manager. "He is one of the hardest working and smart players in the draft. Yes, he has some limited tools, but some team teams prefer safe picks in that range."
Another attribute that teams like about Rapp is the development he received under former NFL defensive backs coach and current Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. Evaluators like how Rapp was prepared by Lake and can do a variety of things on the field. One college director said going back to older tape before his junior year Rapp did more free safety work and they like his ability to be interchangeable.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Rapp looks like a first- or second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Mike Brown. Rapp reminds me of Mike Brown, who had a good career playing for the Chicago Bears. For a comparison to players currently playing in the NFL, Rapp could be a lesser version of Landon Collins or D.J. Swearinger.
NFL Matches: Indianapolis, Los Angeles Rams, New England, Arizona, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Tennessee
Late in Round 1, Rapp has a few options. Indianapolis could use more talent at safety, and Rapp's intangibles would fit in well with the culture the Colts are building. The Patriots have some old safeties and could stand to get younger. Rapp could make sense for New England with the 32nd pick.
The Rams could consider Rapp late in the first round after losing Lamarcus Joyner in free agency. Staying in the NFC West, Arizona and San Francisco could be options for Rapp at the top of the second round. The Cardinals have to replace some veterans they lost in free agency, while San Francisco needs more talent at safety.
Tampa Bay made a mistake passing on Derwin James in the 2018 NFL Draft, and the Buccaneers need a safety to go with Justin Evans. Staying in the NFC South, Carolina needs a safety to pair with Eric Reid, and I would be surprised if the Panthers pass on Rapp if he gets to their second-round pick.
The Titans could use a strong safety to pair with Kevin Byard.
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