LA Rams: 3 reasons why DB Taylor Rapp earns starting role in 2021

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Taylor Rapp
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Reason I

Then rookie Taylor Rapp replaced an injured John Johnson III in the 2019 Rams defense. 2019 was a normal year, and although a rookie, Rapp showed what he could do in the NFL with a full offseason to ramp up for the season. Perhaps equally important, he slid in to start ten games during his rookie season as John Johnson III’s replacement.

Safeties are not as interchangeable on NFL defenses as some may believe. Free safeties have historically had better cover skills, have primarily played center field, and been move involved in pass coverage. Strong safeties tend to line up on the side where the tight end plays (the strong side of the offense, thus strong safety), tends to play closer to the line of scrimmage, and is more active in taking on blockers, defending the run, and covering screens and slot receivers.

While the two roles have blurred, there are still nuances about the two roles that have distinguished the two pieces.  For Taylor Rapp, he stepped up for Johnson in 2019 and supported the Rams defense that year in a strong safety role.  Even as a 2020 starter, rookie Jordan Fuller played alongside John Johnson III, not in place of. That makes a difference in terms of how Rapp, or any projected starter, views the role.

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We can project who might start, but there is only one player on this LA Rams defense who has a history of starting for John Johnson III, and that is Taylor Rapp. From that vantage point, the job is Rapp’s to lose, and the abundance of OTAs and practice sessions this offseason will serve to solidify, not lose, that starting role in 2021. Rapp has proven that he has all of the talent necessary to perform at a high level in the NFL.  He just needs the opportunity.  In 2021, he will get his opportunity.