The Los Angeles Rams have a numbers problem in the secondary.
The team traded stalwart CB Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. Safeties Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, respectively. Veteran Troy Hill is still on the free agent market, though he has been a regular contributor during his time in Los Angeles.
That just leaves the Rams with Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, and Derion Kendrick at cornerback (the last two coming off their rookie seasons). Shaun Jolly also received some playing time early last season, but he’s listed at a slight frame of 5-9, 180 lbs. Durant is also undersized relative to traditional standards (5-11, 180 lbs.), and he projects more as a slot corner moving forward—72% of his snaps a year ago came from an inside alignment.
Rochell and Kendrick are both better suited to play on the boundary, though each seem to have fallen out of favor with the coaching staff.
Rochell played 233 snaps during his oft-injured rookie season. That number dipped to just 27 defensive reps in 2023. He’s a former fourth round draft pick and athletic freak, and he will have a shot to re-assert himself at the top of the depth chart in training camp where competition will sort out who gets the opportunity to start.
The outlook for Kendrick is not as optimistic, as his limitations pertain more to his physical skillset than ability to carve out a role so far. The second-year corner ran a 4.78 40-yard dash during his pro day at Georgia, which was the slowest mark of any recorded pro day or Scouting Combine performance at the corner position. The on-field results last year weren’t ideal either: Kendrick was targeted 56 times, allowing 39 completions for 571 yards, 2 TD’s, and a passer rating of 114.5. His PFF run defense grade for the season was a harsh 38.0 in 12 games.
Why Riley Moss fits into this group well:
Riley Moss is a CB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.66 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 75 out of 2172 CB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/XX5l0MHaXy #RAS pic.twitter.com/tdOdDEA7aE— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 4, 2023
Iowa’s Riley Moss is a pure zone cornerback that excels in dropping into deep thirds or quarters coverages. 88% of his defensive snaps during his final season as a Hawkeye came on the outside, and with his 4.45 40 speed he can stay over the top of deeper routes.
Moss played over 2,600 snaps during his career at Iowa, allowing passer ratings in his coverage of 78.5 (2022), 55.1 (2021), and 83.7 (2020) in his most recent seasons (per PFF). At 6-1, 193 lbs. he has both the frame and willingness to make an impact in run support—his 77.4 PFF grade in run defense for 2022 attests to this.
There are holes in Moss’ game which keep him from being a top prospect in this draft class. He seems to lack sudden quickness and can get lost against shiftier receivers. His 4.15 shuttle time suggests he is better at straight-line speed than change of direction. Another concern with Moss is that he gets lost at the catch point from time to time, often looking back for the ball too late and allowing the ball to squeeze through to the receiver.
There are some in the draft community that feel a move to safety would better suit Moss’ skillset, but he will hold up at corner in a zone-heavy scheme that keeps the play in front of him. While cover three defenses are falling out of favor in the NFL, quarters concepts are still a staple of the Vic Fangio style of defenses. Moss could fit right in and give the Rams a different skillset than they currently have at cornerback.
Riley Moss: 4 INT’s in zone coverage this season, most in College Football pic.twitter.com/nwzsvO041k— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 2, 2021
Look for Moss to be taken in the somewhere in the top 150 players. The Rams currently have six picks in the first 177 selections, so it’s likely they will have their chance at him if they so wish:
- Round 2, 36 overall
- Round 3, 69 overall
- Round 3, 77 overall
- Round 5, 167 overall
- Round 5, 171 overall
- Round 5, 177 overall
- Round 6, three selections (182, 189, 191 overall)
- Round 7, two selections (223, 251 overall)
Looking at some tape on the Senior Bowl defensive backs…#Iowa CB Riley Moss (bottom of the screen).— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) January 28, 2023
Plays with really good backfield vision in zone coverage. That’s key in Phil Parker’s scheme.
See it fast. Transition on the throw. And tackle. pic.twitter.com/rohhRsVkrC