SEATTLE – If it feels like you’ve read something like this before, well, things are becoming a bit redundant when it comes to the kind of talent the University of Washington is sending to the NFL.
Three more Huskies were selected in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, following Thursday night’s first-round selection of offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (31st overall to Atlanta).
With the first pick in Friday’s second round, cornerback Byron Murphy was selected by his hometown team, the Arizona Cardinals, with the 33rd overall pick.
Near the end of the second round, safety Taylor Rapp went to the Los Angeles Rams with the 61st overall pick. That’s two more defensive backs from UW headed to the NFL, and if you’re keeping tally that’s eight NFL defensive backs the Huskies have produced since 2013.
What’s more, the Huskies are sending another tight end to the NFL – and Drew Sample’s selection in the second round (52nd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals was a pleasant surprise.
It also continues UW’s strong tight-end trend.
Since 2014, the Huskies have produced five pro tight ends – the Seahawks notably took Will Dissly in the fourth round last year – and overall the Huskies have sent 20 tight ends to the NFL over the past 50 years.
A 6-foot-5, 255-pound graduate of Bellevue’s Newport High, Sample was considered one of the best blocking tight ends in this draft, and his pass-catching ability is probably underrated. He had 25 catches for 252 yards and three touchdowns as a senior in 2018.
In Arizona, Murphy will reunite with former UW teammates Budda Baker and Ezekiel Turner in the Cardinals’ secondary.
“I kind of had it in the back of my mind I could be a Cardinal,” Murphy said in a conference call. “This whole day has been kind of emotional, just thinking about the Cardinals’ part of the Birdgang, knowing I grew up watching the Cardinals my whole life. I’m ready to stay in my hometown.”
Rapp, a Bellingham native, had slipped late into the second round because of the slower-than-expected 40-yard dash he ran at UW’s Pro Day earlier this month (4.74 seconds). Still, many project the Huskies’ All-American to have an immediate impact for a Rams team expected to contend for a Super Bowl berth again this year.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment my whole life, ever since I could walk – an unbelievable moment that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Rapp told the Los Angeles media in a conference call. “I get to come in under obviously Eric Weddle – a vet – and John Johnson, he’s an incredible player. To come in and learn under them, it’s an incredible opportunity and the perfect scenario for me. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Rapp is the first NFL draft pick out of Sehome High School. Rapp’s mother is from China, his father is from Canada, making Rapp one of the few players of Chinese heritage selected in the NFL draft.
As a true freshman at UW, Rapp became a surprising starter at safety just a few weeks into the 2016 season. He had two interceptions – including one returned for a touchdown – in the 2016 Pac-12 championship game against Colorado, helping the Huskies win their first conference title in 16 years.
Rapp was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2017 and 2018, and an ESPN All-American last fall, when he posted 59 tackles, two interceptions and a team-high five sacks.
UW’s four selections in the first two rounds of the draft matched the program’s record for players taken in the first two rounds of any draft.
And they’re not done yet.
In the final four rounds Saturday, a handful of Huskies could come off the board – linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, defensive tackle Greg Gaines, running back Myles Gaskin, cornerback Jordan Miller, safety JoJo McIntosh and quarterback Jake Browning.
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