With the primary surge of Free Agency wrapping up, the focus for the Indianapolis Colts turns to the draft, where GM Chris Ballard looks to hit another home run with the 2019 class. Last draft season, Ballard drafted Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard who both ended up earning First Team All-Pro honors as rookies. On top of that, he also drafted a handful of contributors in Braden Smith, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Nyheim Hines, and Matthew Adams.
This new film room series will attempt to highlight certain prospects that may interest the Colts and go through their film to find their strengths and weaknesses. Today’s prospect is Washington Safety Taylor Rapp. Rapp is an underclassman who has put together an excellent college career with the Huskies.
We will look through the film and see what Rapp could potentially bring to the Colts if they end up drafting him. Clips in this piece will be from five games that I watched, all five were on coach’s film. The full list of games watched were against Oregon (2017 and 2018), Arizona State (2017), Cal (2017), and Utah (2018).
6’0” 208 pounds
40 Time: N/A / Bench Press: 17 / Vertical Jump: 35 inches / Broad Jump: 115 inches / 3-Cone: 6.82 seconds / Short Shuttle: 3.99 seconds
168 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in his three year career
Late Round 1- Early Round 2
The number one trait that the Colts need to look for in the draft with a safety is tackling and run defense. With Malik Hooker, they already have a deep safety who is rangy and great in coverage. They need to pair him with a player who is consistent and reliable in the run game. Rapp is exactly that as he has near perfect tackling form while also being a willing and able run gap filler.
This first clip has Rapp lined up in the slot getting ready to blitz. He recognizes the sweep coming to his side and adjusts his angle accordingly. When he is about to engage the ball carrier, he squares up his shoulders and lines up the hit perfectly. He provides a good jolt as well when hitting the running back and the result is a loss on the play. From a technique standpoint, this play is excellent.
This next clip again shows his instincts and quick ability to diagnose the run. He flies downhill as soon as he recognizes the play is a run. He sifts through traffic and is able to keep his head up and find the ball carrier. Once again, when he engages the runner he lines up the hit perfectly and makes a clean tackle. His tackling form is excellent and again the result of the play is a loss for the offense.
This last clip showcases his patience in the run game. He doesn’t over-commit to the run but rather he stays back and square to the field of play. Once the runner gets close, he uses perfect form to bring him down for a short gain. Rapp has linebacker like tackling ability and he is always dependable and solid in this area of his game.
This area of Rapp’s game may not be super important but it adds another dimension to a defense. He is excellent at blitzing the QB on designed plays. He displays great bend and hip flexibility— which we will talk about here in a second— along with having relentless pursuit of the quarterback. The Colts could very well use this ability of his to create more pressure on opposing QB’s, much like they did with Kenny Moore ll out of the slot last year.
This first clip has Rapp blitzing from the slot. He initially gets blocked by the tight end and taken out of the play. He doesn't give up and is able to dip past the tight end and pursue the QB. Even as the quarterback rolls out of the pocket, Rapp continues chasing until he brings him down for the sack. His relentless effort and motor are another reason why he got so many sacks in his career for a safety.
Another blitz play where Rapp shows his burst and bend. He comes down from his high safety position and times the snap perfectly. He flies past the left tackle who is way too slow to react. He then bends around the corner before straightening up towards the quarterback. He finishes with a big sack.
This last clip has Rapp blitzing from a linebacker spot in the middle of the defense. He gets a great jump on the snap and is able to fly through the line of scrimmage unblocked. The quarterback has no chance on this play and is forced to just absorb the sack from Rapp. With his burst and quickness, he is an absolute weapon in the pass rush game as he can be used all over the field to disrupt opposing quarterbacks.
Rapp may not have the best long speed or range— which we will talk about in the negatives— but he makes up for it with excellent hips and burst. His 3-cone time of 6.82 and shuttle time of 3.99 are both elite marks for safeties all time. On film, those numbers really show as he is really quick out of his stance and bends around edges with ease. Laterally, Rapp is a near elite athlete.
This first clip shows both of those traits on full display. He gets an excellent jump out of his stance and times the snap perfectly coming downhill. He dips around the corner in attempt to cut off the running back before he gets to the hole on the other side of the formation. This play is near impossible to make but with his elite hip flexibility, he is able to turn the corner and trip up the running back.
Again you can see the hip flexibility and explosion here by Rapp. He initially bites inside on the run but then quickly diagnoses that the quarterback still has the ball. Once he notices this, he changes direction and strafes in the way of the quarterback to cut him off. When the quarterback attempts to juke back inside, Rapp matches his movements and makes the tackle for a loss. He may not be a speed demon but Rapp is an excellent athlete with his lateral movements.
Like I mentioned earlier, Rapp is not a rangy safety. His long speed is below average and he fails to make plays on the backend that other safeties can make. Another negative would be just the scheme that he played in at Washington limited him a bit. They asked their safeties to play very deep at times and Rapp struggled to compensate for it. He would often backpedal when he is already lined up 20 yards off the ball and effectively take himself out of the play. The last big concern I have with him is just that his ball skills are below average as well.
This clip here shows the issues with Rapp in deep single high coverage. He gets frozen by good eye manipulation from the quarterback and is forced to work back across the field to make a play on the ball. This is not an easy play by any means but he does not have the elite range to play single high in the NFL. NFL free safeties typically can work back across the field and get in position here. Rapp simply does not have the speed to get there.
This last clip shows the schematic issue. Rapp gets really deep on this play from the start and then continues backpedaling until he is nearly 30 yards off the ball. Part of this is scheme but another part is on him. He likely continues to get depth in order to compensate for his lack of long speed but that leaves the field open in front of him for completions. Getting too much depth can be an issue. It wasn’t on this particular play but consistently getting too much depth is an issue that he can’t carry over into the NFL.
Taylor Rapp is an excellent player who would add a lot to the Colts’ defense. He may not be a high upside, rangy safety but in terms of reliability and consistency he is the best safety in this class. What the Colts are looking for is a player like Rapp. A high energy run defender who can consistently make plays in the box.
I have no doubt in my mind that the Colts could turn Rapp into a really good NFL player. He was used as a versatile chess piece at Washington as he was lined up at cornerback, safety, and even linebacker in some formations. The Colts were excellent at using players to create mismatches and pressure on opposing QBs last season and I believe they could use Rapp the same way he was used at Washington.
Overall though, from play on the field to how he is off the field— Academic All-American and Team Captain— Rapp is an excellent fit on the Colts’ defense.