Take a look at Sehome and UW star Taylor Rapp’s path to the 2019 NFL Draft
It doesn’t matter whether he gets picked late in the first round Thursday evening, early in the second round Friday or even in the unlikely event he lasts even longer — history will be made at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn.
No, University of Washington safety Taylor Rapp won’t be the first Whatcom County high school graduate to be drafted by an NFL team — Bellingham’s Steve Alvord (1987), Nooksack Valley’s Tom Ackerman (1996) and Ferndale’s Jake Locker (2011) have already beat him to that one.
And it’s unlikely Rapp will unseat Locker — the eighth-overall selection by the Tennessee Titans — as the highest pick of a Whatcom County alum.
But Rapp likely will become the first graduate of Sehome High School to be drafted into the NFL.
In fact, no former Mariner has even played in the NFL, according to pro-football-reference.com.
“This is definitely exciting to have a Sehome graduate in a place to be drafted in the NFL,” Sehome athletic director Colin Cushman told The Bellingham Herald. “To my knowledge, Taylor is the first student/athlete here at Sehome to be drafted in the NFL.
“I know that the school, the athletic department and the football program have taken a lot of pride in calling Taylor one of our own. This takes even more importance with us here at Sehome, knowing what a quality person Taylor is.”
Top draft prospect
According to most national online mock drafts, experts predict Rapp, who left the Huskies following his junior season with 171 tackles, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and seven sacks in 40 career games, will be selected anywhere from the bottom third of the first round to the end of the second round.
A number of different teams have been mentioned as possible landing spots for the 6-foot, 208-pound safety. According to various media reports, Rapp has made pre-draft visits with the Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.
NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Rapp rated the 39th-best prospect overall and the third best safety in this year’s draft class behind only Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram (No. 23) and Delaware’s Nasir Adderley (No. 34).
“Rapp is slightly undersized for the position, but he’s been very productive throughout his career,” Jeremiah said in his evaluation. “Overall, Rapp is one of the most reliable/dependable players in this draft class. Still, his lackluster speed at Washington’s pro day (where he ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.7s) will impact his draft stock.”
NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt, meanwhile, has Rapp rated 54th overall and the fourth-best safety, slotting Virginia’s Juan Thornhill one spot ahead of Rapp, while Yahoo Sports has him pegged as the 28th-best prospect in the class and the top safety on the board.
The NFL dream
Whichever team comes away from the draft with Rapp should be pleased, according to those that knew him before he was selected Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, first-team All-Pac-12 in 2017 and 2018 and first-team All-America in 2018 by TheAthletic.com, ESPN and USA Today.
“While at Sehome, Taylor was highly regarded as a quiet, humble, hard-working student athlete that was well liked by his classmates, teachers and coaches,” Cushman told The Herald. “The Sehome community is really excited for Taylor to see where he lands and what the future holds for him.”
In addition to a successful NFL playing career, Rapp hopes his future also allows him to be a role model.
Rapp will not only be the first Sehome alum to be drafted, he also likely will become the highest-drafted Chinese-American to enter the league. Rapp’s mother, Chiyan, was born in Shanghai and met Rapp’s father, Christopher, while he was in China.
Ed Wang, an offensive tackle who became the first Chinese-American player to be drafted by an NFL team when the Buffalo Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, currently holds that mark, according to a February story on NFL.com about Rapp and some of the hardships he had before he reached UW.
In that story, Rapp spoke about his struggles trying to get recruited out of a relatively small high school and town that is not particularly known for its football prowess and the perceptions and stereotypes he had to overcome as a Chinese-American student-athlete.
“It’s beyond making history to me,” Rapp said in the NFl.com story. “To me, it’s about gaining a platform that will help inspire a generation of Chinese- and Asian-American kids. I don’t want to be just an answer to a trivia question; I want to inspire and have a real impact.”
Rapp’s drive to make that impact is profiled is one of five NFL Draft mini-stories featured in the third season “Rolling with the Rookies,” which was released Sunday.
“There’s nothing wrong to have a dream and always go after your dreams,” Chiyan Rapp said in the mini-feature.
And sometime in the next three days, part of Rapp’s dream should be fulfilled.
“Draft week!,” Rapp wrote in an Instagram post from Nashville on Monday. “The opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine has finally come, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Who’s going to Rapp him up?
Here’s a look at where some of the national mock drafts have former Sehome and UW star Taylor Rapp landing in the 2019 NFL Draft:
▪ Bleacherreport.com: Seattle Seahawks (first round, No. 21 overall) — “Earl Thomas leaves and Taylor Rapp arrives. Seahawks fans should be good with this one. Rapp is a versatile defender in the mold of Minkah Fitzpatrick or a bigger Tyrann Mathieu.”
▪ CBSsports.com: Dallas Cowboys (second round, No. 58 overall) — “An awful showing at Taylor Rapp’s pro day allows the star safety prospect to slide down to them at No. 58. He should shine as a down safety for the Cowboys but can also bring some versatility to the position.”
Whatcom County NFL players
A look at Whatcom County graduates who have played in the NFL, according to pro-football-reference.com:
▪ OL Don Steinbrunner (Mount Baker): Browns 1953.
*Entering fourth season as head coach of Philadelphia Eagles.
Gil Brandt’s name was corrected on April 25, 2019.