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All-22 Review: Buffalo Bills S Taylor Rapp

Buffalo adds a safety with starting experience and a Super Bowl ring

Rams, Seahawks, NFL, SoFi Stadium Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills signed defensive back Taylor Rapp to a one-year deal (pending a physical). Rapp was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Los Angles Rams. General manager Brandon Beane recently said at the NFL owners meetings that Rapp has been on Buffalo’s radar as a potential replacement for Jordan Poyer if they were to lose him in free agency. As luck would have it, The Bills retained Poyer and still managed to sign Rapp.

Statistically speaking

The 6’0” 208-pound defensive back came into the league as a highly touted DB who was a three-year starter out of the University of Washington. The 25-year-old Rapp comes to the Bills after appearing in 57 games (starting 48) over the course of four seasons for the Rams. Here is Rapp’s current career stat line:

  • 330 total tackles
  • 1.5 sacks
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 3 fumble recoveries
  • 9 interceptions (1 TD)
  • 23 passes defended

For the “what have you done for me lately” crowd, his 2022 season stat line looked like this:

  • 92 total tackles
  • 1 fumble recovery
  • 2 interceptions
  • 6 passes defended

Scheme Fit

Rapp is one of the more versatile defensive backs you’ll find in the NFL. Technically speaking, Rapp is listed as a safety, but that isn’t the only position he can play. Rapp can be used as a jack-of-all-trades defensive back able to play at any level on the defense. The Rams routinely used him as high safety, slot corner, nickel/dime linebacker, and a blitzer off the edge.

To be honest, Rapp is close to a perfect fit schematically for Buffalo’s safety group. He offers positional versatility that will allow head coach Sean McDermott to mix up defensive looks in sub-packages (nickel & dime). Buffalo is used to never taking their two linebackers off the field, but with Tremaine Edmunds leaving in free agency, this tactic is subject to change. Rapp could fit in nicely in the “Buffalo Nickel” role where he would replace a linebacker (not Milano) and play in the box, but offer more upside in pass coverage. Not to mention, he is an “A1” backup to aging starting safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.

Rapp has tons of starting experience and won a Super Bowl with the Rams in 2021. His pedigree speaks for itself and it’s a much-needed signing for Buffalo to bolster their safety corps. If all goes well for Rapp in 2023, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one-year deal turns into Buffalo re-signing him to a multi-year deal to be their safety of the future.

Now let's review some film!

Rapp with the game-sealing INT

The Rams were in a prevent defense look on this play and Rapp was lined up as one of the underneath defenders. I like how Rapp never looked rushed in this play. He understood the late-game situation — the Raiders were likely to run deep routes that take a long time to develop, so he never chased a route but instead sunk and let the routes play out. He kept his eyes on the QB and was aware of the wide receiver running the dig route behind him. Once the ball was thrown, he was aggressive to high-point the football to come down with the interception.

Rapp’s ability to cover ground results in INT

Rapp initially seemed to get fooled on this play — he started running with the post route (which was already double covered) and didn’t initially see the wheel route coming from the opposite side of the formation. Once he realized the post route coming behind the post, he had the ability to turn around and get over the top of the wheel route. Granted, the ball was overthrown and was the reason why he made the interception, but he put himself in a position to make a play at the catch point.

Rapp makes a big hit in run support

As discussed above, the Rams used Rapp in a variety of positions. On this play, he was lined up on the edge near the goal line. Rapp did a nice job not jumping inside to make a play that wasn’t his. He stayed in his run fit on the outside and was able to squeeze the edge down to make a big hit for negative gain.

Rapp’s missed tackle leads to TD

No one is perfect, but this missed tackle by Rapp proved costly for the Rams. After he missed this tackle, the receiver ran it in for a 57-yard touchdown.

Rapp as a blitzer off the edge

I like that Rapp can be used as a high safety or played down close to the line of scrimmage. He blitzed off the edge on this run play and did a fantastic job of turning the corner and closing in on the ball carrier to get a tackle for loss.

Rapp finds INT playing underneath zone

Rapp offers some unique position versatility, and it’s shown on this play where he made an interception out of the nickel linebacker position. He played this perfectly — got depth and sunk with the in-route, and then read the quarterback’s eyes to break on the throw to make the interception.

Rapp with the INT from slot corner position

Rapp showed his position versatility again on this play, this time from the slot corner position. Rapp passed off the seam route and then got depth sinking into the flats. Once he saw the QB commit to the throw, he broke on the ball and made a nice interception. Rapp offers another option for Buffalo to use in a dime package as a slot corner, or in case of an injury to cornerback Taron Johnson.

In summary

Taylor Rapp is a puzzle piece that the Buffalo Bills can insert in many different places in their defensive scheme. He offers McDermott and company a new toy to generate creative looks in sub packages, but he’s also a top-notch backup for Poyer and Hyde. It will be interesting to see how Rapp is used in the Bills’ defense, and I doubt he’ll be a typical run-of-the-mill backup. All signs point to this being a great signing by Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills.