Elite defensive back play can be a big difference maker in your IDP dynasty leagues. Dynamic play-making safeties that put up hefty tackle numbers help win managers their weekly matchups. Let’s take a look at why I think Taylor Rapp is the next star IDP safety.
College Production/Scouting Report
Career College Stats 2016-2018: 39 games, 168 tackles (103 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Taylor Rapp was a huge part of the Washington defense at safety during his three years with the Huskies. As a Freshman, Rapp earned honours as the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the year as well as a First Team Freshman All American. He followed that up with All Pac-12 First Team honors as a Sophomore and Junior and. He earned an AP Second Team All American spot as a Junior as well. After three very productive years for Washington, Rapp decided to forgo his Senior year and enter the draft.
Entering the draft, Rapp stood out for his high football IQ and ability to impact the game against the run. Evaluators also liked his versatility. He was asked to play all over the field for the Huskies defense. One of the biggest questions scouts had was his speed. While he participated in the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete in the 40. Rapp ended up running the 40 at Washington’s pro day and registered a disappointing time of 4.76 seconds. It was thought the hip flexor injury Rapp suffered attributed to his slow 40 time. In an interview after his pro day, Rapp stated he was running in the 4.5-4.6 range in training prior to the combine. When you watch his tape he displayed more than adequate play speed when on the field.
2019 Stats : 15 games (10 starts), 100 tackles (62 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery
When the Rams selected Taylor Rapp in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, I don’t think they expected him to make such a big year one impact. While I’m sure they had plans to mix him in, they already had their starters at safety in veterans Eric Weddle and John Johnson. An unfortunate shoulder injury ended Johnson’s season in week six and Rapp was tasked to step up for the Rams’ defense. There were bumps in the road to start, but Rapp settled in nicely as a rookie. His versatility showed up as he was asked to play snaps at deep safety, strong safety, and up in the box as a hybrid linebacker.
Rookie Taylor Rapp impressed in his debut season with his gritty play in 2019
Among all Safeties last year (min 300 snaps), Rapp ranked:
— PFF LA Rams (@PFF_Rams) January 10, 2020
As you can see in the image above, Rapp displayed some stellar safety play his first year in the league. As expected Rapp showed strong ability as a tackler, but he also showed improvement in coverage once he settled in. Cracking the 100 tackle number as a rookie is no joke and his two interceptions and eight passes defensed show he is a legitimate play maker against the run and in coverage.
Against the Run
While this play is from his college days, it displays Rapp’s game speed and closing ability. It also showcases why he’s a weapon against the run game.
Washington safety Taylor Rapp's closing speed 🚶♂️💨 pic.twitter.com/ITwLG3gHbk
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 3, 2018
Against the Pass
Here you can see Rapp’s ability to defend against tight ends as he breaks up the pass intended for Jared Cook.
Never mind the depth chart. It's fair to think of Taylor Rapp as an NFL starter. The @RamsNFL rookie played 62% of defensive snaps yesterday and grades out (PFF) as a top-20 safety after just two games. pic.twitter.com/vlqOKD7U5x
— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) September 16, 2019
On this play Rapp does a good job of reading Kyler Murray‘s eyes and breaks on the pass after Murray locks onto his target. His instincts and feel for the game lead him to his first career interception and touchdown.
Taylor Rapp picked the right time to make his first career interception 💪 @trapp07
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 1, 2019
With Eric Weddle’s retirement this off-season, Taylor Rapp is locked in as a starting safety for the Rams’ defense. Depending on where you look, Rapp is listed as the starting strong safety or free safety on the depth chart. It doesn’t matter what the depth charts say. Rapp will make plays all over the Rams’ defensive formations. New defensive coordinator Brandon Staley already came out and said that he values versatility from his secondary within his scheme. With that statement, I believe we will see Rapp and Johnson be moving parts in the scheme playing snaps deep, in the box, and possibly as a hybrid linebacker.
Currently, the Rams have one of the weakest linebacker corps in the league. While there’s some potential within the unit, it’s really anybody’s guess who emerges and how effective they end up being. That being said, this uncertainty and inexperience at linebacker leads me to believe there are going to be plenty of tackle opportunities for both Taylor Rapp and John Johnson. I feel both will flourish and will be able to coexist seamlessly. With these plentiful tackle opportunities, I see Rapp hitting triple digits in total tackles again in year two. If he continues to progress in coverage, I could see Rapp making his first Pro Bowl appearance as he will directly impact the game in every way on defense.
According to our IDPGuys Combined Consensus Rankings, Rapp is currently the 13th ranked safety and 198th overall player. With a big 2020 on the horizon, I expect both these rankings to go up as the year progresses. His plus football instincts, superb tackling ability, and role/situation make Rapp a player I’m looking to invest in. Should Rapp put up another 100 tackle season and make the splash big plays he has a knack for, I think we will be talking about him as a top 5-6 safety this time next year. For this reason, I’m looking to buy him now before his price jumps even more. Buying Rapp now will look like a bargain after he takes his game to the next level in 2020.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I hope you enjoyed and found it helpful. You can find my work here at idpguys.org and follow me on Twitter @KBellf54. I’m always available for any questions or feedback you may have and my DMs are always open.