Even before the end of the 2021 season, cornerback was shaping up to be a major offseason need for the Los Angeles Rams.
Darious Williams was failing to live up to expectations in his second full season as a starter. As the year went on, it became increasingly apparent that the team was expected to allow Williams to test the free agency waters - and he ended up signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Darious Williams getting beat by KJ Osborn about sums up his season. Expected him to take that next step this year and he's taken a step back.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) December 26, 2021
Darious Williams' rough season continues. That's his second holding penalty today. Rams need to make things more difficult for Jacksonville. They have nothing to beat you with offensively.— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) December 5, 2021
The Rams’ primary focus in free agency was retaining talent on the offensive line - they re-signed Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen in the opening days. When LA couldn’t keep Von Miller, they shifted their attention to signing receiver Allen Robinson. While the Rams could have made a play for reinforcements at corner for the right price, it wasn’t in the cards for 2022.
Williams’ departure meant David Long, Jr. would be a cemented in as a starter - either on the outside or as the slot corner. Robert Rochell would also be in for a larger role in his second season after missing much of his rookie year due to various injuries. While this young duo flashed their talent at times last season, they’d still be the biggest question marks on a star-studded defensive line up.
Heading into the draft the Rams seemed to have a hole at corner, though in hindsight those concerns were short-lived.
After drafting an offensive lineman that is expected to compete for a spot in the starting lineup from day one, LA selected corner Decobie Durant in the fourth round. Moments later the Rams doubled down on the same position and made their most underrated acquisition of the offseason: trading with the Cleveland Browns for veteran Troy Hill. Two rounds later they added a competent but unheralded piece of the historic Georgia defense in Derion Kendrick.
Half of the team’s eight draft selections in 2022 will play in the defensive secondary.
Over night the cornerback room went from a potential Achilles heel to a position of strength for Los Angeles, and Hill brings a reliable presence to a relatively young group of defensive backs.
You can visually see the chemistry/communication building between Troy Hill and Jalen Ramsey. Hill literally tells Ramsey to break on the other route because he's going to carry the deep one over the MOF. Awesome stuff. pic.twitter.com/oTpSs8vFkT— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) November 19, 2019
What Hill brings to the table
While it’s not normally mentioned as an important part of a corner’s game - and it’s typically more important for inside corners than those on the boundary - Hill is a strong run defender.
If opposing offenses are aware that certain players have weaknesses, they will attack that weakness over and over again until they prove they can stop it. Williams struggled against the run at times last season, and it allowed teams like the San Francisco 49ers to get the best of the Rams’ defense.
Hill has not been regarded as a shut down corner over the course of his 7-year career, but he’s far from a liability in really any facet of his game. This well-roundedness will serve the Rams well when the majority of the cornerback room is filled with young players with a lot left to prove.
Troy Hill and Michael Brockers made a game saving two point conversion stop to help preserve the win against the 49ers in 2017. Hill returns to the Rams this year for a 2nd run with the club. Excited for Hill to enter the CB room again. A player who can play inside and out pic.twitter.com/j9zqJYwjtE— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) June 30, 2022