Do the New York Giants need to select a safety in the 2019 NFL Draft?
The back end of their defense is certainly well-stocked with bodies with Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea joining Michael Tomas and Sean Chandler. However, they each come with questions or concerns going forward, and that isn’t ideal for a position of importance in James Bettcher’s defense.
This also happens to be a deep and talented safety class, with top-end talent as well as depth. The Giants might not be able to select a safety with one of their first round picks, but they could look to the position in the second or even third round. If they do so, Washington’s Taylor Rapp has a blend of size and versatility which could appeal to both Dave Gettleman and James Bettcher.
- Versatile. Played deep zone, box safety, and as a slot defender.
- Good feet, hips, and awareness in coverage.
- Capable of playing both man and zone coverage.
- Active communicator before the snap.
- Willing run defender. Doesn’t hesitate to come downhill.
- Able blitzer from the second or third levels.
- Does a good job of getting depth in his drops.
- Reliable tackler. Delivers hits and generally tries to wrap up.
- Can struggle sifting through garbage at the line of scrimmage.
- Doesn’t show great range.
- Shows some lower-body tightness.
What They’re Saying
Versatile three-year starter who combines tenacity with football intelligence to play at a consistently high level. Rapp isn’t big, but he’s well-built and durability hasn’t been a concern despite his physical nature as a striker. He played all over the field this year and might be best-suited in a mix between down safety and two-high looks with the ability to cover tight ends. His coverage talent is average, but his run support effort and open-field tackling are clearly defined strengths that make him a relatively safe selection.
- Lance Zierlein (NFL.com - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
If the Giants are still looking for a safety with versatility to play near the line of scrimmage or in a deep zone, then they should be doing their due diligence with Taylor Rapp.
Rapp isn’t an ideal free safety, with sideline-to-sideline range and near-cornerback hips, but he does have plenty of range for Cover 2, Cover 3, or Cover 4 looks. He can get by as a centerfielder in Cover 1 looks, but would be better used as a blitzer, perhaps from the 3rd level, showing a Cover 2 look pre-snap -- which happens to play in to what James Bettcher likes to do with his blitz schemes. Playing at roughly 210-212 pounds, he might gain some mobility if he were to drop a bit of weight, but the thickness does help lend him versatility.
Rapp is a willing, even eager, run defender, diagnosing offenses quickly and wasting no time coming downhill to make the tackle. He also has the ability to play close to the line of scrimmage, covering tight ends and running backs as a “Big Nickel” defender.
Washington’s defense frequently played him deep -- very deep -- and the overall quality of their defense prevented many offenses from challenging him often. And while some look at that as boring for a safety, it could also be seen as a sign of respect from offenses, that they will take shorter, easier throws rather than attempt big plays with that safety lurking. But when Rapp was moved to where he was on-screen in the normal TV angle, he came alive as a defender, and is always around the ball.
Rapp isn’t a perfect safety, and his particular skill set might not be highly prized by a league that places the most value on defensive backs who are playmakers in the passing game. However, if he happens to last until the end of the third round he should be in consideration for a Giants team that needs talent at all levels of their defense.