DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys have shown a need at safety and it was especially evident during their game with the Los Angeles Rams that ended their season in the NFC Divisional Round.
The team has a young playmaking safety in Xavier Woods who is still trying to make a name for himself at the NFL level. Beyond Woods, however, the position is filled with question marks which could lead Dallas to look for safety help in the NFL Draft.
Dallas has Jeff Heath currently penciled in as a starter but his shortcomings where on display in Los Angeles even after several years of yeoman's work on the back end. After flirting with the likes of Earl Thomas and Eric Berry, Dallas eventually signed George Iloka for depth at the position but he most recently spent the season as a backup in Minnesota and barely saw the field.
The front office should be looking for another young talent to put alongside Woods in order for the defense to take their play up a notch, especially given how offenses have adapted in this new era of offensive football where the ball is thrown more than ever.
There is one player who immediately comes to mind from the upcoming draft class who could fit the mold for what the Cowboys are looking for and he played his collegiate football in the Pacific Northwest: Taylor Rapp out of Washington.
NAME: Taylor Rapp
WT: 212 lbs
Rapp started all three seasons for the Huskies after enrolling with them out of Bellingham, Washington in 2016. Rapp has the size and ability to make an impact at the next level despite being an unheralded recruit.
Rapp likely won’t create many interceptions as his playstyle fits more into the role of strong safety. In Dallas, he would likely be asked to play closer to the line of scrimmage in order to stop the run and force teams to be one-dimensional.
However, if the ball is thrown his way in coverage, he can make a play on it.
Rapp can cover tight ends and some backs but the more elite athletes will give him trouble as he doesn’t have an explosive burst to stay stride for stride with the playmakers at the next level.
What you love about Rapp is the fact that he is a safety that likes to hit, and he will dish out some highlight-worthy ones on Sundays.
He plays with good technique and has a knack for taking ball carriers to the ground with great consistency. The team won’t have to worry about giving him too much help to get the job done when it comes to tackling.
Another part of Rapp’s game that teams really love is the fact that he shows good recognition with play development. He is able to make proper pursuit angles to track down ball carriers.
Rapp is able to read the run game like a running back, a position he played in high school, and he can anticipate where the play is being filtered toward so he can make the play often times in the run gaps.
He also uses those skills to diagnose in the return game which made him a surefire special teams contributor in his time on campus in Seattle which would make him an even more valuable draft option for a team like Dallas.
The areas of concern for Rapp has to do with his lack of turnover production and his over-aggressiveness when trying to make a play. A team can live with the aggressive plays, though, as he is likely to make more than he will miss. For this reason Taylor Rapp would be a perfect fit to slot next to Woods and he should be in play for the Dallas Cowboys at pick 58.
Should the Dallas Cowboys be eyeing a safety with their first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.