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Is Taylor Rapp The Interchangeable Safety The Redskins Need?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington

Taylor Rapp, Safety
School: Washington| Conference: PAC-12
Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 202 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Morgan Burnett

College Statistics

Rapp was voted to PFF’s First-Team All-American list in 2018. PFF states “Rapp is a rare player with the ability to play any back-seven position if needed. He finishes the regular season as our highest-graded safety in the nation (91.4) and displayed his versatility with five sacks, two interceptions and five pass breakups.”

Furthermore, PFF charged Rapp with surrendering just 8 receptions and missing only two tackles on the season. One of which, he missed a tackle while blitzing the QB, gets up, and then still gets the sack.

Player Overview

Born in Atlanta, Rapp’s family moved to Bellingham Washington when he was three years old. Rapp grew up a Huskies’ fan who dreamed of playing for the Purple and Gold.

Just a 3-star recruit, Rapp has been a starter since week two of his true freshman season. Despite playing in a defensive backfield that consisted of Bubba Baker, Sidney Jones, and Kevin King, Rapp led the team in interceptions (4) and was voted the Defensive Freshman of the Year in the Pac-12.

Rapp continued his excellent play the next two seasons, then declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Rapp has dual citizenship in U.S. and Canada, and will be just the second Chinese-American selected in the NFL Draft.

Read more about his back story by NFL.com: Cultural issue: How UW safety Taylor Rapp is changing football

Athletic Traits

Coming out of high school, Rapp ran a 4.74 40-yard dash at 200 pounds, making his NFL Combine one of the more interesting to watch.

During Spring testing, Rapp clocked the fastest time on the team in the the pro agility 20-yard shuttle, and 3-cone drill. His 6.57 second 3-cone would have ranked in the top three among safeties at the 2018 NFL combine.

There are some similarities to Marcus Maye and Justin Evans, who looked like an “interchangeable safeties” with a similar frames and skill sets.

The Film (Rapp wore #21 his first two seasons and #7 in 2018)

Here is a Film Season with the Panther Nation Podcast

See more of his film HERE.

What Others Are Saying

Lance Zierlein - “Versatile three-year starter who combines tenacity with football intelligence to play at a consistently high level. Rapp isn’t big, but he’s well-built and durability hasn’t been a concern despite his physical nature as a striker. He played all over the field this year and might be best-suited in a mix between down safety and two-high looks with the ability to cover tight ends. His coverage talent is average, but his run support effort and open-field tackling are clearly defined strengths that make him a relatively safe selection.”

Matt Miller’s #1 ranked safety - “He’s a great tackler in the open field with instincts and toughness and shows the speed and range to play in multiple alignments at either safety position.”

Fran Duffy - “An outstanding tackler and a smart, instinctive coverage piece, Rapp may not have the explosive range to play sideline to sideline in the deep middle.He’s a phenomenal run defender, a great blitzer, and an outstanding kid away from the field. Teams may view him differently across the league, but it wouldn’t shock me at all if he snuck into Round 1 for a team looking for a Day 1 starter at strong safety.”

Pro Football Focus (from 2017 season) - Rapp “is a Swiss army knife that excels in all facets, who lined up deep as a free safety (55% of snaps), in the box as a linebacker (26%), as a slot corner (15%) and even on the outside of the defensive line (4%).”

Strengths

  • A smooth, calculating athlete, at his best in the short to intermediate levels or when attacking down-hill.
  • Breaks down with a wide base, low hips, and explosive short-area quickness.
  • Football intelligence, instincts, and vision are all very good.
  • A sound and efficient tackler both in run support and coverage.
  • Frequently used in blitz packages, where he shined (4 sacks in 2018).
  • Has the experience and physical traits to lineup in a variety of positions and schemes.

Weaknesses

  • While he tracks the ball well and can be a playmaker, he is inconsistent getting to the catch point when in deep coverage.
  • Appears to lack a fifth-gear required from single high defenders.
  • Quicker slot receivers, would likely be a difficult match-up for Rapp???
  • Suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand (March 2016) and a hip injury (Dec. 2018).

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

Unless they bring back Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, the Redskins clearly have a need at safety, and a case can be made that they still do even if they extend HHCD.

Rapp is an interchangeable safety with the instincts of a free safety and the physicality of a box player. He can play man in the slot, can blitz, can play the run, and cover deep. I think there are some legitimate questions regarding his range, but his instincts and knack for tracking the ball may compensate for a lack of pure speed. I like Rapp but those that are trying to sell him to me as a late first to early second, I feel his draft value is probably a little high.