When Darious Williams started playing for the Los Angeles Rams at the end of the 2019 season, he had some advantages working in his favor with the fanbase. Unlike fellow Rams cornerback Troy Hill, Williams was a new player, he was a couple of years younger, and he had even scored a fumble recovery touchdown during a brief appearance against the Falcons in the middle of the season.
Comparatively speaking, Williams was more like a “prospect” even though he was already 26 and Hill was a known quantity with a perceived ceiling of a guy who at best would rotate in and out of the defense with as many mental mistakes as he had positive moments. Then after Williams posted interceptions in each of L.A.’s final two games that season, it may have felt like the Rams added not one All-Pro cornerback after trading for Jalen Ramsey that year...
And yet, when the road met the rubber, it was Hill playing in 95-percent of the snaps in 2020 as compared to 81-percent of the snaps for Williams.
This is not to say that Troy Hill was necessarily “more valuable” to the Rams or that he was the more talented player. Only to point out that Sean McVay and Brandon Staley found that Hill was a cornerback who could basically never come off of the field, whereas Williams had to be in there for the right moments—this disparity had nothing to do with any injuries.
The end result was that Hill was a full-time member of the Rams defense for the first time—after spending 2016 to 2019 playing in one-third to one-half of L.A.’s snaps—and Staley’s defense was one of the stingiest in the NFL. Williams intercepted four passes that season too.
But then what happened to Williams’ effectiveness when Hill left in 2021 to sign a two-year, $9 million contract with the Cleveland Browns?
(The originally reported contract numbers were four years and $24 million, but that turned out to be way off for some reason.)
With Hill out of the way last season, Darious Williams saw his snaps jump up to 97-percent in the 14 games he was healthy enough to play in. However, he had zero interceptions despite a significant increase in targets thrown in his direction. Williams signed with the Jaguars this year and the Rams went the other way, trading a fifth round pick to re-acquire Troy Hill from the Browns and agreeing to pay his $1.5 million base salary.
I’ve already heard whispers in the Turf Show Times comments section that Troy Hill doesn’t belong in the top-20. But I will make the case anyway.
Update: Hill was originally listed at #18, but had to move down one list after adjusting for a previous miscount
#19 - CB Troy Hill
Hill enters the 2022 season having played in more practices, training camps, games, and snaps than any defensive player on the Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay other than Aaron Donald.
That’s just a fact.
Only Rob Havenstein, Tyler Higbee, and Cooper Kupp can claim more experience on offense.
The Rams also said some goodbyes to quality veterans like Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day and the spirited Donte’ Deayon. The addition of Hill is one of McVay adding a cornerback who he has nothing left to teach, which will free up the defensive coaches to spend more time with rookies Derion Kendrick, Russ Yeast, and Derion Kendrick, as well as Robert Rochell.
It would have been impossible for Los Angeles to go out and sign any free agent with that much experience for only $1.5 million. With a roster that had to also give raises to Kupp and Donald (not a typical move for any team: raises instead of extensions), those kind of savings are invaluable.
Hill played in nearly 1,000 snaps for the Rams in 2020 and now they might need to him to play in 1,000 more in 2022. And Hill is motivated to prove the Browns wrong for trading him when they did.
“I feel disrespected,” Troy Hill told LA Times. ”Definitely motivated to come out and show what I can do. Definitely plan to come out and play with a chip on my shoulder, for sure.”
“When I was in Cleveland, I always found myself trying to compare things to how it was done over here in L.A.,” Hill said. “I don’t know if it was me just trying to compare as far as this is what a winning program, or if was just missing everything that was happening over here.”
Obviously, the Rams are hoping that Rochell, Durant, Kendrick, or David Long turns out to be a long-term answer at cornerback and there isn’t that kind of expectation with Hill. The expectation is that he is serviceable enough for long enough until any of those breakouts happen.
It’s sort of just like the situation with Darious Williams in 2019... which led to Hill playing more snaps than Williams in 2020, and now sort of outlasting Williams on the roster as we head into 2022. Counting out Troy Hill was a mistake. Will history repeat itself?
Out of these players only, who should rank highest on the Top-20 Rams?
This poll is closed
CB Troy Hill
K Matt Gay
CB Robert Rochell
QB John Wolford
S Nick Scott