One of the most polarizing players on the Los Angeles Rams when it comes to debates within the fan-base is Taylor Rapp, a man that is entering his fifth season in the NFL out of the University of Washington. Rapp, who has reached the end of his rookie deal with the Rams, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this coming off-season, meaning L.A. will have to decide whether or not they will entertain the idea of bringing him back on a new deal.
Now, Taylor Rapp has been a player that has had some serious ups and downs during his playing career, with fans and media alike basically split 50/50 when it comes to their feelings for him as a football player. Some believe Rapp does not belong in the NFL as a safety, while others believe his physicality and tenaciousness on defense is something coaches crave from a safety. I fall in the latter category, with one tweak to the notion.
In my opinion, Taylor Rapp really struggles in coverage as a safety due to his lack of top end speed, as he ran a 4.76 40-yard dash at his Pro Day back in 2019 which caused his draft stock to drop. Actually, perhaps the only reason he was not a 1st round pick was due to his 40-yard dash time, as NFL scouts typically prefer their safeties to run in the 4.5-4.6 range at the slowest. With that being said, what did Taylor Rapp show coming out of college that had him in consideration to be a top-32 selection prior to his 40-yard dash performance?
Well for starters, Rapp is a gifted and natural tackler, a man who seeks out contact and plays with a level of aggressiveness that you cannot teach to a football player. He is also considered a high IQ player who diagnoses run lanes well and has a good feel for the overall flow of a play when he is inside the box. But wait, these sound like great traits to have for a linebacker, isn’t Taylor Rapp a safety for the Rams?
That’s the problem in my eyes, and I truly believe that if Taylor Rapp made a position change to linebacker, he would instantly become more productive as well as much more comfortable on the football field. Remember Mark Barron? Barron was also a safety coming out of college, playing his first few years in the NFL as a safety just like Taylor Rapp has. Then, once Barron was traded to the Rams, he was switched to linebacker and became an absolute tackling machine, racking up 234 tackles and 23 tackles for loss in his first two seasons as a linebacker.
If the Rams decide to bring back Taylor Rapp, they really need to consider moving him inside the box and making him a full-time linebacker. Having a three man combination of Bobby Wagner, Ernest Jones, and Taylor Rapp rotating as the inside linebackers could give the Rams one of the most versatile line-backing rooms in the entire league, which bodes well for a team that is in the same division as run-heavy teams like the 49ers and the Seahawks.