The Los Angeles Rams seemed to be thin at cornerback during free agency after starter Darious Williams signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But that didn’t last long - and the Rams added a significant amount of talent at the position during the NFL Draft.
Re-enter familiar face Troy Hill, who spent last season with the Cleveland Browns. The Rams acquired the veteran by trading a mid-round draft choice in 2023. Los Angeles figures to be in solid shape at corner with versatile star Jalen Ramsey, the dependable Hill, and the emerging David Long, Jr.
After drafting Robert Rochell in the fourth round of 2021 and drafting Decobie Durant in the fourth round and Derion Kendrick in the sixth round of 2022, the Rams now have promising, young talent behind the savvy starting trio of veterans.
Each young defender brings a unique skillset to this position group. So which individual has the best chance to carve out a successful career with the Rams?
Robert Rochell (2021, 4th Round)
At 6-2, 195 lbs., Rochell has the prototypical size that teams look for in corners. To boot, the second-year player was rated as an elite athlete during the draft process in 2021 - ranking as the 63rd most athletic corner since 1987.
Robert Rochelle is a CB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.65 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 63 out of 1784 CB from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/AOjRIsWGSH #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/yrocVH8VWC— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 15, 2021
Injuries limited Rochell’s availability during his rookie campaign, but he was still able to make several standout plays - including early in the season when he went aerial in the end zone to knock away a Russell Wilson pass intended for Tyler Lockett. He even made a key stop against Andy Dalton and Darnell Mooney on fourth down in the season opener.
Rochell offers the most upside out of the three young corners and could project as a long-term starter on the boundary. It remains to be seen whether he can put it all together.
Robert Rochell is Darnell Mooney’s father pic.twitter.com/zkftlUtVxa— αηтнσηу (@Veins_On_Ice) September 13, 2021
Decobie Durant (2022, 4th Round)
The best attribute of Durant is that he’s always looking to make a play on the ball, and his 12 interceptions at South Carolina State highlight this ability. He also has the speed to keep up with receivers downfield - running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But his lack of size limits the outlook of his NFL career. Durant likely projects as a slot corner, and it’s hard to see him holding his own against bigger targets on the outside.
At 5-10, 180 lbs., Durant could be a liability in the running game and against bigger slot receivers. If his career with the Rams doesn’t shake out, his small stature could be the primary reason why.
SC State CB Decobie Durant (5-10, 180, #14) is a prospect to keep an eye on today in the Cricket Celebration Bowl vs. Jackson State (Noon ET, ABC).— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) December 18, 2021
The reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Year had his best game against Clemson earlier this season where he recorded 2 INTs. pic.twitter.com/x5ROvCvp4X
Derion Kendrick (2022, 6th Round)
The Rams took a late-round flyer on Kendrick, and overall he’s seemed to be a polarizing players throughout the draft process.
His detractors would tell you that a historic Georgia defense that featured five first rounders in 2022 (plus LB Nakobe Dean who fell to the third round due to injury concerns) hid many of his flaws. There are questions whether Kendrick has a sufficient level of speed to play in the NFL, and he failed to address those concerns ahead of the draft. There are also some character concerns with Kendrick - he was arrested on drug and weapons charge before transferring to Georgia from Clemson.
Cornerbacks who can come up in run support >>>— PFN Draft (@PFNDraft) January 11, 2022
Derion Kendrick has made a lot of money this season.
Kendrick’s supporters would point out that he plays faster on film than on the track, and that his draft profile has some first round traits. He is a twitchy player and is more comfortable in zone coverage where he can keep the ball in front of him and use his vision to make plays - this could be an important ability in Raheem Morris’ defensive scheme.
It seems likely that Kendrick has the most wide range of outcomes in his NFL career. He could develop into a long-term starter for the Rams, or he could be out of the NFL within a few years.
Given that LA selected him in the sixth round, this appears to be a low risk, high reward bet that could pay significant dividends at a high value position.
Derion Kendrick playing the QB's eyes perfectly for his 2nd INT of the nightpic.twitter.com/dd3tbbWyTi— PFN Draft (@PFNDraft) January 1, 2022
Which young corner will have the best career for Rams?
This poll is closed