The Los Angeles Rams were short-handed at cornerback entering the 2023 NFL Draft, especially after trading the versatile Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. The first reinforcements to the position came late into the draft when LA selected TCU’s Tre Tomlinson—nephew of former NFL running back Ladainian Tomlinson.
While Tomlinson is an intriguing prospect and an adept coverage player, the most significant question in his scouting report was something that is becoming a common theme in the Rams corner group: a lack of size.
Losing Ramsey especially hurts because he has the prototypical size you’d expect from a corner who can win against all types of receivers. Robert Rochell, who is entering his third season, is similar to Ramsey in size at 6-2, 198 lbs. but he has struggled to stay on the field due to injuries and falling behind on the depth chart. That leaves LA with Cobie Durant (5-11, 181), Derion Kendrick (6-0, 190), Shaun Jolly (5-9, 180) and now Tomlinson (5-9, 181).
Working in the CB’s favor is the fact that receivers also seem to be getting smaller, as there were a plethora of wide outs taken over draft weekend that weighed in well below 180 pounds: Zay Flowers (Ravens), Jordan Addison (Vikings), Tank Dell (Texans), and Josh Downs (Colts). If more teams are deploying pass catchers with slighter frames but high-end movement skills, you also need corners that can keep up with those guys.
It just begs the question whether the Rams have embraced the lack of size to a fault, but that’s something we won’t get the answer to for some time. The solution is also difficult, because the only remedy at this point is to bring in a veteran—and then you have to worry about balancing the veteran eating up snaps when playing time is incredibly important to the development of young players. Perhaps the Rams understand that they can’t solve all of their secondary problems in a single offseason and plan to take their lumps in 2023 with the hopes that they find a long-term answer next offseason.
But the lack of size may prove to be something that can easily be taken advantage of in the short-term, even just within LA’s own division. Are the Rams really counting on Robert Rochell taking a major step forward and shadowing the likes of DK Metcalf or DeAndre Hopkins? What happens if he once again has trouble staying on the field? Can you realistically expect Durant, Kendrick, or Tomlinson to cover those big, athletic receivers over the course of a game?
The Rams have a significant size problem at cornerback, and the path forward seems difficult in the short-term. LA is heavily relying on a step forward in Robert Rochell’s development, but they’ll be left in a difficult position if that doesn’t take place.
With the loss of D. Williams, 2nd year CB Robert Rochell will be competing for starting snaps in the 2022 season. The 4th round pick had his rookie season cut short due to injury last year. Rochell is an athletic DB with plenty of potential. Expect him to be in the mix pic.twitter.com/xNvFWNeILW— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) April 26, 2022