The Los Angeles Rams released CB Kayvon Webster today saving $3.5m that helps them finish out the cap space needed for new players like DL Ndamukong Suh and WR Brandin Cooks. As such it means their CB1 and CB2 from the 2017 season, CB Trumaine Johnson and Webster respectively, will have new employers in 2018 as Johnson signed a deal with the New York Jets last month in free agency.
With that said, here’s how things are shaping up at the position as we head toward the 2018 NFL Draft with less than three weeks remaining:
This is your core starting outside CB duo. I suppose we won’t get a great sense of how the Rams will align them until the short work they get in the preseason, but that’s less of a depth chart issue and more of a scheme issue for Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
NRC is the primary slot corner after re-signing on a three-year deal last month. He played more than 60% of the total defensive snaps last year, so it’s not an insignificant role. His work rate was right at the same level as starting OLBs Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin. While neither of them will reprise their role as the Rams’ starting OLB (barring a late Barwin re-signing), the relationship is important as taking NRC off the field for another linebacker is relatively tied to the Rams’ run defense capabilities. So we’ll have to see if NRC’s work rate is affected by the changes in the front seven as it relates to stopping the run. Perhaps the addition of DL Ndamukong Suh will free NRC up for more opportunities.
Hill was tendered on a one-year deal in March, so he’s the primary backup on the outside again like 2017. He had a roller coaster of a season missing the first two games due to a DUI from November 2016. He missed time throughout the middle of the season with shoulder and hamstring ailments most notably landing on the injury report for the Week 11 contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Though he was listed Questionable at about a 50% chance of playing, he missed the game. Mid-game injuries to Webster and Robey-Coleman forced the Rams to go the to deepest part of their CB depth chart to defend against a threatening Vikings offense that took advantage of the opportunity.
This was the depth I was alluding to in the Vikings game. Hatfield’s a pure corner while Countess has a bit more versatility a la S Lamarcus Joyner. They’ll have a leg up on training camp battles for snaps given their experience here in 2017.
Peterson floated between the practice squad and the 53-man roster throughout 2017 so there’s clearly an affinity for him on behalf of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and Cornerbacks Coach Aubrey Pleasant.
The Rams signed Shields to a one-year comeback deal last month. Shields had missed all of 2017 due to numerous concussions. Many thought he was headed to retirement, but he has given it a go and was cleared by team doctors. We’ll have to see how the former Pro Bowler looks in camp and if he’s got a legit shot to make the roster or if this was just a feelgood storyline for the offseason.
This is the 90-man roster depth. Making the 53-man will require a heck of an offseason.
So that’s how things line up right now. There’s no real certainty on a backup at the nickel slot behind NRC and there’s plenty to fight for behind Peters and Talib. We’ll have to see how many names get added here in the draft and the subsequent UDFA push, but with the duo at the top things are in good shape.