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Short and long-term outlook for the Rams at cornerback

After 2021, it’s Jalen Ramsey and ... ?

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The LA Rams might have had the best secondary in the NFL in 2020 and they could still have the top cornerback duo of 2021 in Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. But Troy Hill took 1,000 snaps with him when he signed with the Cleveland Browns and there doesn’t appear to be anyone stepping in who will have had much notable NFL experience prior this year, essentially making it a prospective bet as volatile as DOGE.

What is the short and long-term outlook for the position that must cover DeAndre Hopkins, DK Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel, among others?

Short Term Outlook

The number one receiver for the opposing team is already covered in the short and long-term given that the Rams extended Jalen Ramsey prior to last season. A two-time first team all-pro who has made the last four Pro Bowl rosters, Ramsey has the best argument for being the NFL’s top corner and his presence will be vital for the league’s continuously expanding list of difficult-to-cover receivers.

But Ramsey could also prove to handle tight ends and elite slot receivers as evidenced by his and Brandon Staley’s willingness for him to play the “star” role on the defense in 2020. That will prove important not only for guarding players like Samuel, but also George Kittle and perhaps even a former teammate in Gerald Everett, now a member of the Seahawks.

Opposite of him is Darious Williams, who is actually a year and a half older than Ramsey, and he’s relished the opportunity to be in that role. Williams has posted six interceptions despite only getting 13 starts in the last two seasons and quarterbacks allegedly (don’t believe all these stats) went 39-of-72 (54.2%) for 480 yards with two touchdowns and four picks when targeting him. Williams then posted yet another interception in the playoffs.

However, Williams was on the field slightly less than Hill in 2020 (824 snaps, meaning that Hill essentially played about three more games worth of snaps last season) and that could mean that the number three corner role on LA’s defense needs to do even more than expected right now unless Williams is up to the task of improving even more upon his game at age 28.

Right now, the prime candidates to take that on are 2019 third round pick David Long, Jr. and 2020 third round pick Terrell Burgess, mostly a safety in college at Utah. There is also training camp favorite Donte Deayon, but is exceptionally rare for a player to breakout after five years of attempting to break into the league.

This is why cornerback could be a higher priority in the draft than anticipated, perhaps even with the Rams’ first pick on day two. A player like Oregon’s Thomas Graham, who LA has shown interest in, could end up in the secondary with Ramsey and Williams next season and even get considerable playing time.

But the part to focus on above all else is that Jalen Ramsey is on the Rams, Darious Williams is really good, and teams don’t usually fall apart or come together based on depth behind their top two corners. Not to say that it doesn’t happen though or that LA wouldn’t be in trouble if they did lose Ramsey for an extended period of time because of course they would.

Poll

How confident are you in the Rams’ 2020 cornerbacks unit?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    4 (the most)
    (138 votes)
  • 53%
    3
    (203 votes)
  • 8%
    2
    (33 votes)
  • 2%
    1
    (9 votes)
383 votes total Vote Now

Long Term Outlook

As mentioned, Ramsey is signed through 2025, which is even longer than Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.

Williams was given the first round tender, a rarely seen vote of confidence with RFAs given that teams hardly ever even talk to players who are given the second round or original round tenders, and it guaranteed him an extra $1.5 million. But without a long-term extension — which seems unlikely given how much LA is already spending on some other defensive players and Williams’ age — it could be inevitable that he leaves in 2022.

Consider that if Troy Hill got a four-year deal that a team is probably willing to over-bid whatever the Rams are able to offer Williams in 2022.

Outside of Ramsey and Williams, it’s hard to even guess which cornerbacks on the roster could even be in LA’s long-term plans. Long has barely seen the field in two years. Burgess hasn’t played cornerback in the NFL and missed most of his rookie campaign. Deayon is a practice squad player. And the Rams didn’t add anybody else yet.

The long-term outlook for the Rams secondary is magnificently simple and talented:

Jalen Ramsey.

But past him, there is nobody we know of yet. It could be Long or Burgess or both (Long will be a free agent in 2023) and that might be why we see Snead pick a corner on day two.

Poll

How confident are you in the long-term outlook for the Rams at cornerback?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    4
    (55 votes)
  • 38%
    3
    (104 votes)
  • 34%
    2
    (92 votes)
  • 6%
    1
    (17 votes)
268 votes total Vote Now