With the 61st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected Washington safety Taylor Rapp.
Rapp isn’t a stellar athlete as a strong safety, but he offers a lot of value in run support. He is one of the best tackling defensive backs in this year’s class, as he has the strength in his frame to consistently bring down ball carriers. He also takes good pursuit angles to ball carriers, and he has good instincts as a tackler.
Though not incredibly rangy, he has solid hip fluidity when covering tight ends and some running backs.
The Rams have a lot of talent on their roster, and they added even more of it by selecting Rapp. He is a hard-hitting safety who will boost their secondary.
After trading away their first-round, and a pair of second-round picks, the Rams have their first and 2019 draft selection in former University Washington safety Taylor Rapp.
Rapp, the No. 61 pick of the NFL draft and first safety drafted by the Rams since John Johnson III in 2017, stands 5-foot-11, 208 pounds, and is a two-time First Team All-Pac 12 player, and earned First Team All-American honors in his final season as a Huskie. As a Junior in 2018, Rapp started in all 13 games and logged seven interceptions, 14 passes defensed, 7.0 sacks, plus a pair of forced fumbles.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment my whole life, ever since I could walk — an unbelievable moment that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Rapp told the Los Angeles media minutes after his name was called. “I get to come in under obviously Eric Weddle — a vet — and John Johnson, he’s an incredible player. To come in and learn under them, it’s an incredible opportunity and the perfect scenario for me. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Rapp will join the Rams’ decorated secondary with a few contracts set to expire over the next couple of seasons. Both corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib hold deals that will be up after the 2019 campaign. Weddle is set for two years alongside Rapp, with a contract set to expire after the 2020 season.
Thanks to Hyundai’s Rolling with the Rookies, I got a chance to sit down with the number one safety in the 2019 NFL Draft, Washington football’s very own Taylor Rapp!
Rapp started right away as a true freshman, and to get both players on the field, the Washington football coaching staff moved top recruit and future second-round draft pick Budda Baker down to the nickel in order to get them both on the field. Rapp said it was “a better play out of talents to get Budda in the nickel” and himself over the top.
Rapp has proven himself to have a high football IQ since he got to Washington, which is one of the many reasons he should be a first-round pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft. “I didn’t expect to play as a true freshman… I enrolled early… came in, and that’s what separated me. I was able to learn the whole defense very fast, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get on the field,” said Rapp when he was asked about what separated him from the pack and why he was able to get on the field so early with all the other NFL talent around him.
He gave a lot of credit to defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, “I can’t say enough great things about him as a coach and a person. I have so much respect for him and we have an incredible relationship… he eventually got me to pull the trigger to go to UW, and ever since I arrived on campus, I tried to be a sponge and soak in everything I could from him… I didn’t know how special he was until my three years played out. I think he’s honestly the best developer of college football players and young men in the entire country.” Rapp is a prime example of that, and he’s the perfect model of the type of player any NFL team looks for.
When asked about the future of the defensive backs room, he had tons of praise for the future of the program. “At a lot of other colleges, they’d be playing and starting, but in our DB room we want to have guys come in and compete for a job, and not just get a starting job right away… the sky is the limit for all those guys.”
The biggest thing for Rapp was the opportunity that Washington gave him as a three-star recruit coming out of high school. After struggling through being overlooked, Rapp took advantage of his opportunity, being named as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2016. Rapp was also a Freshman All-American, a two-time All Pac-12 first team member, two-time All-Academic Pac-12 First Team member, and 2018 consensus All-American. Rapp’s biggest support system through it all though is his family, “It means a lot, I always grew up wanting to play at the next level… for me to be in this position, I’m incredibly grateful and blessed, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, my older brother, my support system. I thank them incredibly for what they’ve done and what they’ve established for me as a foundation… I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Once he got to Washington, he developed a relationship with Budda Baker, his roommate. Baker immediately took Rapp under his wing and “he showed me his ways and his leadership style. I was always asking him questions, and whenever I had questions or concerns I knew I could come to him… We’d watch film all night the night before we played, we had a great connection… it was a special relationship that we had.”