Several players stood out in the Los Angeles Rams’ Week 2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. One of those players was rookie cornerback Cobie Durant. Durant had one of the plays of the game when he intercepted Marcus Mariota in the second quarter and set up a touchdown right before the end of the first half.
Not only did Durant record his first career interception against the Falcons, but he was also one of three players to get a sack in Sunday’s game. In his debut on defense, Durant became the first Rams rookie to ever record a sack and an interception in the same game. Given the players that have come through the Rams franchise, especially on defense, that’s quite the accomplishment.
With his performance in Week 2, Durant was one of three defensive rookies nominated for the NFL’s Rookie of the Week. The others were Aiden Hutchinson and Jaylen Watson. Durant is also the first Rams rookie since Jordan Fuller in 2020 to be nominated for the award.
On top of the sack and the interception, Durant allowed two catches on three targets for 28 yards. He also allowed a passer rating of just 56.9 when targeted. During the return on his interception, Durant hit 20.37 miles per hour according to NFL Next Gen Stats. This was the 16th-highest speed in Week 2 and the fourth-highest speed for a defensive player.
It’s a small sample size as Durant only played in 23 snaps, but it was potentially a small glimpse of what’s to come for the defensive back.
The only thing surprising about Durant’s performance against the Falcons is that it took until Week 2 for him to see the field. He was one of the premier standouts for the Rams in the preseason. Against the Houston Texans, Durant had a strip-sack and then later had a pass breakup that arguably should have been intercepted.
Rookie DB Cobie Durant has had a strong camp and preseason thus far. Showing he can be fiesty and tight in coverage. I don’t suspect it will take too long to get Durant in the rotation on defense pic.twitter.com/mJPa6Fa3yT— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 22, 2022
In the little that we’ve seen, Raheem Morris has done a good job utilizing Durant’s versatility. Morris has Durant lining up in the slot, at corner, and then also in the box close to the line of scrimmage where he can be utilized in blitz packages. Both of Durant’s big plays against the Falcons came with him lined up in the slot hovering over Kyle Pitts.
Over the last five years, general manager Les Snead has been forced to find value in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. He’s been able to do just that with players such as Ernest Jones, Jordan Fuller, Greg Gaines, etc.
After losing Darious Williams in free agency, the Rams needed some cornerback depth. Back in April, the Rams drafted Durant in the fourth round with the 142nd overall pick. Durant fell to day three due to his lack of size as he’s only 5’10 and he went to a smaller program at South Carolina State.
However, the Rams do a very good job of drafting for fit which helps them find players that can develop into their system and find roles.
This was the case for Durant as he was a perfect fit for what the Rams look for in their defensive backs. The Rams like small, fast cornerbacks and Durant ran a 4.38 40-time. His arm length of 30.75 inches was similar to Williams. Additionally, Durant adds the ball production that the Rams typically look for as he had 12 career college interceptions.
About Durant, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said,
“Durant might be undersized, but he plays with tremendous confidence and competitiveness. He will have issues against bigger slot targets from time to time but proved his ability against receivers of all sizes against Clemson. He plays with good foot quickness and above-average ball skills to attack the throw...Durant profiles as a late Day 3 selection due to his size, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him outperform his draft slotting.”
Unfortunately, the Rams may have to wait to see Durant back on the field. Prior to his interception, the rookie suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain. After the game, Sean McVay was unsure if Durant would be available this week against the Arizona Cardinals. His status will be monitored throughout the week.
While it’s still the beginning of the season, the Rams have gotten a decent early return on Durant and he looks to have a bright future.