First, let me clarify: I don't know that Trumaine Johnson is the most talented of the Rams' second-year players, but I think he might end up with the best 2013 season, and frankly, seems to be getting overlooked (unless he's driving drunk). An argument could be made that he's been overlooked, or maybe just overshadowed, since he was drafted in the inaugural draft of the Fisher/Snead era. I think the attention that has been heaped onto Janoris Jenkins has kept Trumaine's improved performance and midseason rise on the peripheral. So, let's take a closer look at the second cornerback taken by our St. Louis Rams in the 2012 NFL Draft.
By The Measurables
Trumaine Johnson stands 6'2", and 204 pounds, with 33 1/4" arms. In other words, he is a big corner; a full four inches taller and 11-16 pounds heavier than Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. Clearly, Johnson has the size and strength to match up with the best receivers of the NFC West.
A Rookie Season Marked By Progress
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson played only 50 defensive snaps through the first nine weeks of last season. Fortunately for Trumaine, Week 10 was a breakthrough. Thrust into the third corner spot in the Rams' nickel package after Bradley Fletcher's penalty blunders a week prior, Trumaine showed the Rams brass that he was ready to assume the role. Johnson displayed improved coverage skills and made four tackles against San Francisco. From Week 10 on, Johnson accrued 23 tackles, 5 passes defensed, and one interception.
At season's end, Pro Football Focus gave Trumaine Johnson a +6.9 overall grade and a +4.1 grade in pass coverage, besting Cortland Finnegan and more heralded rookie Janoris Jenkins. Johnson allowed 1 reception per 11.3 snaps that he was the primary man in coverage, which PFF ranks as 30th in the NFL and better than both Finnegan and Jenkins.
What Will We See In 2013?
For starters, we must take into account how Alec Ogletree's coverage skills might affect Trumaine Johnson's playing time; it's quite possible that we see less nickel packages than a year ago, and unless Johnson unseats Janoris Jenkins for the starting corner spot opposite Cortland Finnegan (not out of the question), he could see significantly less snaps. Beyond the question of playing time, your guess is as good as mine as to what we'll see from our sophomores. Michael Brockers, Chris Givens, Darryl Richardson, and Janoris Jenkins all got a lot of playing time last year, and Richardson seems to be the only one whose playing time will decrease. Plus, there's the possibility of Isiah Pead and Brian Quick maturing in much the same way as Trumaine did in the second half of last year, making them viable candidates for the Sophomore MVP Award. Whatever happens, I'm ready for it.