Last week, I covered NFL draft prospects at the combine whose performances may have underwhelmed enough to make it to the LA Rams’ first pick. That included some top names at running back, and a host of offensive linemen. But what about some players who have raised their stock over the last weekend and could potentially vault themselves ahead of Les Snead’s first pick in April?
One such intriguing player who falls right on the cusp is Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt.
At the end of 2021, Taylor-Britt was thought to be a fringe pro prospect, maybe going in the seventh round if he was lucky. He has since been steadily rising up the boards and went into the combine ranked as maybe a fifth or sixth round player, as shown on NFL Mock Draft Database:
Taylor-Britt came close to not seeing his stock rise, as he suffered a quad injury at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl and was expected to be ruled out for the rest of the week. Instead, Taylor-Britt was in full pads and practicing two hours after that initial report.
Said Taylor-Britt: “Nothing gonna keep me from competing!”
Quick story from @seniorbowl: Thursday AM @HuskerFBNation DB Cam Taylor-Britt was ruled OUT for rest of week by trainers w/ quad injury. 2 hours later he was at practice in full pads.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 13, 2022
Me: “We doing this?”
CTB: “Hell yeah, we doing this! Nothing gonna keep me from competing!” https://t.co/t3qzSB6DBv
He didn’t record any stats in the game but impressed everyone with his toughness, even losing a tooth in the process.
Taylor-Britt didn’t compile a statistic in the Senior Bowl game, but had a strong week of practices in coverage and impressed with his physicality on the edge. In addition to the quad injury, Taylor-Britt also chipped a tooth during practices and had it pulled.
Through three seasons as a starter at Nebraska, the 5’11, 196 lbs cornerback recorded 10 tackles for a loss, five interceptions, and 22 passes defensed, half of which came in 2021. He also had an insane four forced fumbles in 2019.
Only a three-star recruit in the 2018 class as an “athlete,” Taylor-Britt chose Nebraska over the likes of Appalachian State and Cincinnati (can you imagine a Sauce Gardner/Taylor-Britt secondary?) and earned every right to call himself a premier starting defensive player in the Big Ten by his final campaign. He finished his career as a fringe prospect but following the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, he has worked himself all the way up to the round two conversation.
Yes, round two.
That’s only a best case scenario but it is a realistic one. Taylor-Britt blew most people away by running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash on Sunday, making him one of NFL.com’s “winners” of the week:
Running a 4.38 40 at 196 pounds helped Taylor-Britt’s cause to be selected among the top 100 picks in April. He had one of the best performances on the floor, as well, changing directions and catching everything in sight. Taylor-Britt transitioned forward from his backpedal more smoothly than I expected. I thought he might have to move to safety in the NFL, but Sunday’s workout and his time at the Reese’s Senior Bowl indicate he has the speed and hip fluidness to stay outside at the next level.
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter can now confidently call Taylor-Britt an “outside cornerback” option and that’s exactly what L.A. general manager Les Snead should be looking for at some point “early” in his 2022 draft class.
Cam Taylor-Britt of Nebraska with a 4.45 40-yard dash #NFL #NFLDraft #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/iUrYgAwPjY— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) March 6, 2022
Darious Williams is an unrestricted free agent who few fans and media members expect to be returning to the Rams in 2022. Replacements on the roster include David Long, Jr. and Robert Rochell; the former hasn’t performed well enough to warrant optimism as a starter, while the latter is inexperienced, unproven, and only a year removed from playing at the FCS level.
That doesn’t mean that the Rams or any team can expect Cam Taylor-Britt—or any third/fourth round pick for that matter—to come in and start in Week 1. But that’s never been Snead’s goal in the draft anyway. The goal is to add good players, period. The focus for the LA Rams in the 2022 draft is quite simple: Which players are expected to leave in 2023 and 2024?
A lot of sleepless nights & a whole lot of grinding— Cam Taylor-Britt (@CamTaylorBritt_) March 7, 2022
Was gon’ say it took forever but it’s perfect timing pic.twitter.com/LQcc2v7HA4
Williams is likely gone in 2022, and Long is a free agent in 2023. Another body needs to be added with Jalen Ramsey, Rochell, and the rest (Kareem Orr, Tyler Hall, Grant Haley) to keep competing over the next two to three seasons. Taylor-Britt has now elevated his profile from someone who could have easily been available to Snead on day three to one he may have to consider with the Rams’ first pick of the draft: a third round compensatory selection expected to hover around 100.
CTB is now on the fringe of that number. Would you approve that pick being used on him in April?
Maybe you’ll be jumping for joy like Taylor-Britt’s position coach was after watching him at the combine:
You put on a show my guy‼️ @CamTaylorBritt_ pic.twitter.com/SD01N6gxis— Travis Fisher (@CoachTFisher) March 6, 2022