By Bob Condotta
The Seattle Times
The NFL combine concluded Monday with the defensive backs taking part in the 40-yard dash and other on-field drills.
But for the two University of Washington defensive backs who many view as possible first- or second-round draft choices — cornerback Byron Murphy and safety Taylor Rapp — the real work already had been done.
Rapp, in fact, decided not to run the 40, so he was basically invisible on the NFL Network coverage Monday (Rapp missed the Rose Bowl with a hip injury and might have wanted more time before running — the NFL Network reported he will run the 40 at UW’s Pro Day on April 1). Rapp, though, did take part in other on-field drills, and turned in the best short-shuttle time for all safeties at 3.99 seconds.
But Rapp already had made a big statement by being measured earlier in the week at 5 feet, 113⁄4 inches and 208 pounds compared to his UW listing of 6 feet, 202 pounds, helping soothe any concerns of his size.
And according to WalterFootball.com, Rapp also shined in interviews with teams — which included the Seahawks (more on that in a minute). Wrote WalterFootball of Rapp: “In speaking to sources at five teams, they thought that Rapp would, at worst, be a second-round pick. A couple of teams had him graded as a late first-round, early second-round pick. Rapp has impressed evaluators with his play but also his makeup. ‘I think he’ll go higher second, and possibly late one because he is so clean and a top character guy,’ said one NFC general manager. He is one of the hardest-working and smart players in the draft. Yes, he has some limited tools, but some team teams prefer safe picks in that range.”
Could the Seahawks be one of those teams?
How big of a need the Seahawks view their safety position is hard to tell — coach Pete Carroll has raved about 2017 draft choices Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson, and Bradley McDougald has two years left on his contract.
But Seattle was interested enough in Rapp to talk to him during the combine, Rapp said Sunday.
“Man, it would be a dream come true,” Rapp said of potentially playing for the Seahawks. “Any team that gives me a chance to play, I’m jumping on that. That’s all I’m asking for.”
But given that he grew up in Bellingham and attended UW, Rapp says the Seahawks would be a really nice fit.
“I grew up watching the Seahawks defense back in the day — Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman,” he said. “That’s what made me fall in love with defense. They motivated me, and my game, and my intensity on the field.”
Murphy took part in on-field drills Monday and ran a 4.55 40, which was 25th among cornerbacks.
But maybe more significant was that Murphy weighed in earlier in the week at 190 pounds, 15 more than his listed UW playing weight of 175.
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said that NFL teams can sometimes be skeptical of players who gain weight for the combine wondering how it will impact other parts of their game.
But Davis said Murphy showed in the on-field drills that won’t be an issue.
“In this case it’s only worked out well for Byron Murphy,” Davis said. “He’s going to get more comfortable carrying that weight.”
Hall of Fame cornerback-turned-NFL-Network-analyst Deion Sanders didn’t seem too impressed with many of the cornerbacks during the on-field drills Monday. But Murphy caught his attention.
“He’s had a decent day today,” Sanders said, which passed for high praise from Sanders on Monday.
Washington cornerback Jordan Miller also took part in the on-field drills and turned in a 4.49-second 40, which was 16th among cornerbacks. Miller generally is considered a likely third-day choice (meaning rounds 4-7).
Miller measured at 6 feet, 5⁄8 inches and 186 pounds compared to his UW listing of 6 feet, 180 pounds.
One player who has been thought a possible Seahawks target, cornerback Greedy Williams of Louisiana State, turned in the second-fastest time for any cornerback at 4.37, which might solidify his status as the top cornerback available. Seattle hasn’t taken a cornerback higher than the third round in the Carroll/John Schneider era, but some have wondered if Williams might be too enticing to pass up if he’s there at 21.
Williams tied for the second-fastest cornerback with Clemson’s Mark Fields, a player with a local lineage. Fields is the son of former Washington State linebacker Mark Fields, who was the 1994 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as the leader of WSU’s “Palouse Posse” defense.