The St. Louis Rams have a quandary to sort through at the safety position. This will be one of the most contested positions in camp. The great thing about the Rams system, is that the safety positions are somewhat interchangeable. This leaves the door open for the strengths of the top three safeties to be used correctly according to the down, distance, and time of game, aka- situation.
Darian Stewart will be picking up the starting duties because of the departure of Quinten Mikell and Craig Dahl. While he is the de facto starter, he will have to keep his game sharp due to the young up-and-comers on the depth chart. This will be Stewart's make or break year for the Rams. He is on a one year "prove it" contract that will determine his long term future with the organization. Stewart isn't afraid to take on a running back, as evidenced below. His ability to follow the runner across the field is not great, but it's not bad either. His strength is coverage, although he will struggle against top tier receiver talent.
The St. Louis Rams added a veteran presence by signing safety Matt Giordano this off season. Raiders fans either loved him or hated him. He was sort of like Craig Dahl, except better. In 2011 he had a great season for the Raiders, leading the team in interceptions (5), but his productivity dropped off. Arguably this could be attributed to the Raiders being pretty lame in the corner department. He will have the luxury of playing over top of one of the best corner tandems in the league (Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins). Giordano does have decent vision and instinct for the pass, and while he may not be as fast as he was in the highlight below, he is still an upgrade over Craig Dahl. He ain't no Bob Sanders against the run, but he does play pretty aggressive against it. With his eight years of experience- Colts, Packers, New Orleans, Raiders- and a Super Bowl Ring, he is now one of the oldest members of the defense. He will push to start unless one of the younger guys is hungrier. Keep in mind he has experience playing both the strong and free safety positions.
T.J. McDonald is one of those rare talents that falls to the mid rounds of the draft. The son of former St. Louis Cardinal and San Francisco 49er Tim McDonald, he has the pedigree to excel. His father is also a defensive backs coach, so you can bet he knows how to prepare. A three year starter at USC, McDonald earned a reputation as a hard hitter and a pretty damn good coverage guy. Receivers will start hearing footsteps after a hit from McDonald. I fully expect to see McDonald on the field this year, especially if either Stewart or Giordano collapse.
Matt Daniels is projected as a special teams guy, but don't sleep on him during nickel situations. He has good zone instincts and a great football IQ. As a former track runner, he does struggle with change in direction. For a smaller safety, he isn't afraid to lay a hit on someone.
Cody Davis played mostly zone coverage in college. He does well in press coverage, but would benefit from being able to roam in a zone scheme. His impressive pro-day numbers in the 40- 4.41, and in the vertical- 41.5 inches, would have beaten any defensive back at the combine. Davis was not a combine invitee. With his tendency to get tangled up by misdirection, he will probably ride pine for a year. Davis did sign a rare three year, $1.5 million contract as an undrafted free agent, so he must have impressed someone at Rams Park.