Most of the NFL might be unfamiliar with Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp, who was a rookie this past season, drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of the University of Washington. But after a very productive rookie season, Rapp is looking to build off that in year two. He is looking to become one of the best safeties in the league.
Some background on Rapp is that he was born in Atlanta, Georgia to a Chinese mother from Shanghai, China and a Caucasian father. His father is American but grew up in Canada. Rapp grew up in Bellingham, Washington, about 25 miles from south of the Canadian border. Rapp is one of the few Asian-Americans in the NFL. He is also one of the few to ever play in the NFL period. Opponents, coaches and college recruiters often overlooked Rapp because of his race.
Rapp wants to change the perception of Asian-American athletes. In a piece by ESPN, Rapp said “I’m trying to change the narrative and show that Asians can play and try to inspire young kids.”
Despite all the blowback he received growing up, Rapp was ranked the number one safety in Washington out of high school and was able to get a scholarship to play for the Univerisity of Washington Huskies football program, where he was a two-time First-team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 Championship Game MVP and Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Rapp is one of four Asian Americans ever drafted into the NFL, including Patrick Chung and Hines Ward.
Rapp is coming off a rookie season where he started 10 out of the 15 games he played. He recorded 100 tackles and two interceptions, he returned one for a touchdown. Rapp ranked third on the team in tackles, tied for the lead in interceptions and second in passes defended. According to Pro Football Reference among all safeties last year, Rapp tied for fifth in defensive stops, eighth in tackling grade, tied for eighth in total pass breakups and 12th in total tackles.
Versatility was one of the main factors in his productive rookie season. He showed the ability to play in coverage, around the linebackers and at the line of scrimmage. With the retirement of Pro Bowl Safety Eric Weddle, this opens up the keys to the Rams secondary. Rapp is looking to lead the Rams safety a hopefully take the next big step in his development. Do not be surprised to see a Pro Bowl nod in his future as he is just getting started.
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