NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks finally gets one right by naming LA Rams second-year safety Taylor Rapp to his 5 breakout defensive backs list for 2020
The LA Rams are at the mercy of the national sports media right now. There are some national sports media who are fairly good with their assessments, and some who seem to pick up a national narrative and just restate the same baseless opinions as facts. I’m really not sure which category NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks falls into. At times, he seems to be swept up in a herd-mentality, saying what everyone else is saying because it helps with views and popularity. At other times, he goes against the grain, but with an opinion that is even less logical than the mainstream hot take.
Finally, he occasionally gets it right. With his latest predictions about five breakout defensive backs for 2020, Brooks gets it correct by naming LA Rams safety Taylor Rapp. After all, here is something we both agree on, so of course he gets it right. This is not the first time Rapp has been named as a top breakout player, as he was named to CBS Sports breakout team in June 2020.
Rapp was a surprise starter for the Rams last year. After teammate John Johnson III fell to injury, he lined up next to veteran Eric Weddle and put up some pretty good numbers. He saw action in 15 games, 10 of which as a starter. During his rookie season, he recorded 100 tackles, two interceptions with one resulting in a pick-six. He broke up eight passes and allowed just 38 completions of the 62 passes targeting him. Of course, there was that blown hand-off coverage against the San Francisco 49ers that he wishes he could get back. But all-in-all, not a bad rookie campaign.
He earned a 63.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which was good enough to earn him as eighth in their Top 2019 rookies list. (subscription required) His write up was pretty encouraging:
"“His 82.5 overall grade since week seven is the 5th-best among all qualifying safeties. In that timespan, Rapp has produced the third-most defensive stops (20), fifth-most combined pass breakups and interceptions (five) and has allowed just a 65.2 passer rating (seventh). Rapp …is best when playing free safety …and had an 84.3 grade in that role, ranking behind only Tyrann Mathieu and Minkah Fitzpatrick."
And that was just his first season. He had the potential for an even better impact but misplayed some opportunities. Still, he put in a solid body of work.
What’s his outlook?
Brooks places Rapp on his list which has just two safeties. Caught up in the “where were they drafted?” bias, he has Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage at number two, despite Rapp putting up far more tackles.
"“The league’s next great safety could play in horns if Rapp builds upon his impressive rookie season. He burst on the scene as quite the playmaker in 2019, with 90 tackles, eight passes defensed and a pair of picks (with one returned for a touchdown)”- Per Bucky Brooks"
The downside for Rapp this year is a year that looks a lot like his 2019 debut. His upside could very well be a Pro Bowl invitation. Rapp is in a perfect situation to peak among the best of the NFL. He is a very talented second-year player, among a great secondary. So of the group, he will be tested most. And thanks to a creative defensive coordinator, he will be placed into a role to succeed.
Rapp has a chance to be a true NFL star this year. He could top 150 tackles and six interceptions this year if he stays healthy. That’s a tremendous second season output.