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Meeting the Rams UDFAs: Is the secondary backed into a corner?

Competition should be fierce amongst a group of young cornerbacks

Timarcus Davis undercuts a route for the interception
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even though the Los Angeles Rams cornerback room is very inexperienced, the braintrust decided to only draft one cornerback, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (THT) at #182 of round 5. They also signed four undrafted rookies to fill the unit for camp.

There were only 790 defensive snaps amongst the four returnees, Derion Kendrick (483, 44.35%), DeCobie Durant (281, 25.80%), Robert Rochell (26, 2.39%) and Shaun Jolly (0). The Rams will likely only keep five corners and to my eyes, the unit looks wide open to a camp breakout performance. I’m going to pencil in THT, and mention that Jolly’s grip seems the most tenuous, leaving a possible opening on the roster.

Let’s get introduced to the undrafted roster candidates and try to project which could earn a coveted spot on the opening 53.

Timarcus Davis, Arizona State

Athletic, versatile corner who projects best to playing downhill in zone coverage, but can be sticky in press/man outside where he can leverage the sideline. Originally signed by Baylor back in 2017 and came out west in 2018. Had his ups and downs with the Sun Devils, earning 13 starts in 36 games. For his career, he totaled 95 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes broken up. Davis was a regular participant on special teams, on both coverage and kick block units.

Was set to be the ASU starter in 2022 but a bruised knee kept him out of the latter part of camp, the season opener and limited him in Week 2. The season also brought in a new defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach, a crop of new recruits and four secondary transfers through the portal. The new scheme was primarily man coverage and Davis had struggles adjusting inside, being too handsy.

The new staff wanted a cross-trained and rotational secondary. Although Davis would only get four starts in his final year, the good news was getting experience at slot corner and safety, as well as his normal outside corner duties.

At his Pro Day, Davis stood out in some categories and overall, showed plus athleticism. He measured in at 5’ 11” 180 lbs. with 9 3/4” hands and 30 5/8” arms. He clocked an adequate 4.52 forty, and 10 reps on the bench. A very good 4.12 shuttle was followed by stellar numbers in the 3Cone (6.65), vertical (41”), and long jump (11’ 2”).

Physical run defender is a very good tackler with good form and drive through ball carriers. Plays well from both press and looking at the action. When in off man plays in a trail position and leaves too much space for receivers to make breaks. Shows good zone skills, quick to read/react, burst to the ball, and tough enough to bang with tight ends.

Solid special teams contributor who was behind really good players early in his Sun Devil days and just didn’t put it together as a senior. Not a great amount of film, but plays pretty well in what there is. Blocked a couple kicks and as a gunner, broke down and made tackles, not just running right past the action.

Cameron McCutcheon, Western Carolina

Long, lanky, FCS outside corner plays with a physical nature. High school track standout hurdler. Began at Gardner-Webb in 2018 and transferred to WCU for the 2021 season. Started 38 of 47 college games with 166 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three interceptions, and 15 passes defended.

Very good athlete, not elite. At his Pro Day, he was taped at 6’ 1” 204 lbs. and had 8 5/8” hands with stellar 33’” arms. In the speed, agility, and short area quickness drills he timed a 4.57 forty, 6.89 3Cone, and 4.27 shuttle. In explosion testing he repped 12 on the bench, and had very good 35” vertical and 10’ 5” broad jump.

Appears to have a good grasp of both man and zone coverage. In man he smoothly backpedals and flips his hips open to mirror wide receivers. He can be put out on an island and while there may be questions about his long speed on deep patterns and ability to make up space once beaten, he is a good hand fighter does the field. He does have that extra length for recovery and uses the sideline to his advantage.

In zone, he keeps his eyes in the backfield, reading the quarterback, and flows with the action while taking care of his area, staying aware of the receiver routes and traffic around him. He reacts well to passes in front of him and breaks well on the ball. His length allows him a wider coverage area.

Very aggressive in fighting off blocks and attacking ball carriers. He pursues well and is more of a chase and drag tackler that wraps up well, doesn’t just fly in for the big hit.

Not a lot of Western Carolina football film, mostly game highlight clips, that’s life a as a mid-rung FCS program. Projecting a player like McCutcheon to the NFL depends on how he takes to learning the more intricate defenses. He is dominant at his level of college football and has some very transferrable skills.

Jordan Jones, Rhode Island

Didn’t have any offers out of high school and went the JC route for two seasons, earning All-American honors. FCS Rhode Island offered and after a redshirt year in Jones became a two-year starter. In 22 games as a Ram, he booked 72 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and one sack. In coverage, he broke up 30 passes, picked off eight and returned those for 189 yards. He was named to the Associated Press FCS All-American team in 2021.

His Pro Day measurements were 5’ 10” 186 lbs., 9” hands, and 31 1/2” arms. He timed a forty at 4.52. While his 6.97 3Cone shows very good short area quickness. The 4.40 shuttle leaves something to be desired. His stellar explosion numbers were a 37.5” vertical, a 10’ 11” long jump 11 reps on the bench.

Played almost exclusively outside in college, he did work primarily in zone along with some press man. Fits into L.A.’s zone scheme, with his ball skills, short area quickness, and break on the ball. HIs has solid football instincts and compliments it by reading the quarterback and tracking the ball. He is capable in man, but his reaction is better when facing the action.

Good tackler in run support and out in open space. Not a thumper, tackles like a corner, not a safety, but does wrap up. Does a good job of using his length to hold edge position and fighting off blockers. Reacts quickly to screen and quick throws outside.

Could not find much of a history of special teams play although his college’s website claims that he did. His coaches rave about his work ethic, ball skills, and timing. He really gets after contested catches.

Tyon Davis, Tulsa

Feisty press corner who is constantly swiping and punching at football. Played almost exclusively outside on an island. Played at JC level for two seasons, joined Tulsa in 2019 and started 25 of 45 games. He logged 138 tackles, defended 26 passes, forced three fumbles, and intercepted two passes.

On his Pro Day, Davis was sized at 5’ 11” 184 lbs. with 9 1/8” hands and 31” arms. Has adequate athleticism and his times showed it. He clocked a ho hum 4.62 forty alongside good short area quickness, 7.07 in the 3Cone and lateral agility with a 4.22 shuttle. Explosion numbers were ordinary as well, 10 reps on the bench, 33” vertical, and 9’ 10” long jump.

Uses quick choppy backpedal and/or kick step. Stays balanced and flips open to mirror deep routes. Is a pretty sticky defender, but where he can lose out is being bullied by bigger stronger wide receivers at the reception point. Good ball skills and many of his pass breakups were punch outs and strips.

Considering how often he is outside in man, he has accumulated a lot of tackles. He is just as feisty in run support as in coverage. Willing tackler, sets his outside edge and doesn’t let runners get outside of him. More of a leg chop tackler. Sometimes can get caught up in the “big hit” habit of flying into runners without properly wrapping up. He is solid out in space as well.

Played special teams in his first two years at Tulsa and certainly has an NFL attitude. Good student who is an overachiever and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

Roster possibilities?

Timarcus Davis played against the best competition and in college was stuck behind current NFL players Jack Jones and Chase Lucas. He’s got the physicality, athleticism, and versatility to play in the NFL. Most importantly, he is already considered a special teams ace.

Both Jordan Jones and Cameron McCutcheon are FCS standouts and I like both of their film, there’s just not enough to make a strong projection. They will be held back by their level of competition, but pass one test, they were dominant players at their level.

I love ornery, feisty little cornerbacks. That’s Tyon Davis. But as a press/man guy, unless there are big changes to the Rams coverage scheme (going to more man coverage), I’m afraid he’s odd man out.

Davis has the inside lane because of his special teams play and I also like the overall size, length, and athleticism combination of McCutcheon. Knocking off Jolly would only improve the cornerback room’s athleticism incrementally, but certainly improve its size. Bigger, stronger, faster, right?