USA TODAY’s ranking of the best outside cornerbacks in the NFL this week highlighted a Rams’ front office decision from 2019 that looks pretty astute in hindsight.
Analyst Doug Farrar, who is known for taking deep looks at players and who is not afraid to rank lesser-known players ahead of household names if their play merits it, ranked the top 11 outside corners in the league. The Rams’ Troy Hill was ranked No. 9. Marcus Peters was ranked just ahead of him, at No. 8.
Yes, that’s the same Marcus Peters who the Rams swapped to the Baltimore Ravens last October for backup linebacker Kenny Young and a draft pick.
The Rams’ decision to trade Peters (who carries a heftier price tag than Hill) for some value was a wise move. It also set them up for the long haul, as the Rams acquired star cornerback Jalen Ramsey — the focal point of the secondary — last October and plan to give him a huge contract at some point in the near future. Paying both Ramsey and Peters would not have been feasible.
Hill plays the Peters’ role with much less fanfare, but has more than gotten the job done while flying under the radar. Hill, who has been with the Rams since 2016, had 43 tackles and two interceptions last year. Here is some of what Farrar wrote about Hill:
Hill may be one of the lesser-known names on this list, but the former undrafted free agent out of Oregon made a real impact for the Rams’ defense in his fifth NFL season — especially as a cornerback in zone coverage, where he allowed seven receptions on 20 targets for 118 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, and a Positive Play Rate of 35% — the fifth-best rate in the NFL for cornerbacks targeted 20 or more times.
Hill is a much safer player than Peters, who is explosive, but often gets burned. Here are some of Farrar’s thoughts on Peters:
Peters is the ultimate boom-and-bust cornerback of his era, and nobody else comes close. Since his rookie season, he has outpaced the rest of the league with 29 interceptions, but he’s also allowed 26 touchdowns. In 2018 for the Rams, he allowed six touchdowns to three interceptions, and for the Rams and the Ravens following an October trade, he allowed five touchdowns to his five interceptions.
Farrar’s story illustrates that football is deeper than simple name recognition. The Rams are getting big production out of Hill, who is getting paid $1.6 million a year. Peters is being paid an average of $14 million a season.
So yes; nice work, Les Snead and company.