As part of theRams.com's coverage leading into this year's NFL Draft, we will be examining selections from the Top 100 in the Sean McVay era. The series continues with a look at safety Taylor Rapp.
Before joining the Rams...
If playing both sides of the ball in high school didn't establish Rapp's reputation for toughness, the first nine months of his college career certainly did.
An early enrollee at the University of Washington, Rapp broke his left hand during spring practices in 2016 but decided to play through it by wearing a cast that fall, according to his NFL.com draft profile.
It seemed to have little effect on his level of play.
He started in 10 of the 14 games he appeared in, making 53 tackles, four interceptions and two pass breakups. Rapp also earned Pac-12 Championship Game MVP after intercepting two passes and returning one of them for a 35-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. The Pac-12 named him its Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, while the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today each selected him to their Freshman All-American First Teams.
Rapp earned back-to-back First Team All-Pac-12 honors after his sophomore and junior seasons, making 59 combined tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and three fumble recoveries in the latter in 2018. His performance earned him First Team All-American honors from The Athletic, ESPN, Pro Football Focus and USA TODAY, helping him eventually decide that the time was right to declare for the NFL Draft.
Unsurprisingly, his decorated college career made him one of the top safeties in his class. NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein gave him a Round 2 projection and a 6.30 grade, which fell into the range of a player who is expected to be a starter within their first two seasons in the league.
Though the Rams traded down three times and did not make their first selection until the No. 61 overall pick, Rapp was still available for the taking.
It was quite the steal for Los Angeles, too. Rapp was considered a top 40 prospect by NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah in his final top 100 big board ahead of the draft.
Rapp eventually landed a starting role on the Rams' defense during his rookie season, stepping up in place of John Johnson III after Johnson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 6 against the 49ers. Overall, Rapp started in each of the Rams' final 10 games, appearing in 15.
Praised for his short-area quickness and reliability as a tackler, Rapp made 100 combined to finish third on the team last season. Both of his two interceptions were off of 2019's top overall pick, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, including a pick-six in Week 13 for the first of his career.
Rapp is expected to retain his starting role and play alongside Johnson in 2020.