The Los Angeles Rams defense will have several questions in the defensive secondary this season. Following the trade of Jalen Ramsey, the Rams will be relying on Cobie Durant and others to step up in his place. With Durant more valuable on the inside, it would be nice if someone like Robert Rochell could step up and be a big, physical presence outside the numbers.
Rochell is a fourth round pick from 2021. He showed some promise as a rookie, but has since fallen off. Derion Kendrick was getting more snaps on defense than Rochell last season when there was a lot of opportunity. Could Rochell be on the way out and be a surprise roster cut?
Between now and the Rams’ first preseason game, I’m going to preview approximately 45 players on the roster. The goal here will be to highlight players looking to take that next step in 2023 as well as players who will serve as key depth on the roster. I may expand into the occasional star or roster-bubble player, but for the most part we’ll be looking at the players who will truly make or break the Rams season.
Today, let’s look at Robert Rochell.
2022 Season in Review
After playing 233 snaps on defense as a rookie, Rochell didn’t see a lot of action in year two. He played a grand total of 27 snaps, including 11 in coverage. Most of his playing time came on special teams where he had 323 snaps and four tackles.
While playing special teams isn’t a bad thing, it seemed as if Rochell took a step back in his development. Can he get back to or eclipse the level that he was at during his rookie season?
The Good/Best Case Scenario
When it comes to Rochell last season, there isn't a lot to talk about. He didn’t contribute on defense and most of his action came on special teams. Despite playing 233 snaps on defense as a rookie, this was still behind guys like David Long Jr. and Dont’e Deayon. Rochell allowed a reception on 65 percent of his targets and an 88.8 quarterback rating.
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
The best case scenario for Rochell is that he beats out Kendrick as the primary cornerback on the outside opposite of Durant. Rochell has the athleticism to be successful at the cornerback position. There were flashes as rookie. It’ll be important for him to get confidence in training camp and the preseason and hopefully take that next step.
The Bad/Worst Case Scenario
Rochell played in 233 snaps on defense as a rookie and saw that drop to 27 last year. His 17.6 missed tackle percentage in 2021 was in the bottom-25 among cornerbacks which might be a reason he saw time on special teams.
The worst case scenario for Rochell is that he gets cut. The Rams don’t have a lot of top cornerbacks, but they will have guys competing for roster spots. A place on the final-53 is all but guaranteed.
Biggest Question: Where does Robert Rochell’s Status Stand?
This is the biggest question that Rochell will need to answer, because right now, nobody knows where he stands on the roster. Is he good enough to step in as a starter on the outside or is he in danger of being cut?
If Rochell shows that he’s nothing more than a special teams player, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get cut in favor of a player like Shaun Jolly. With his athleticism and potential, he should be able to find some success. It’ll be up to him to put it all together.
It’s hard to determine where Rochell’s roster battle is at. Is he competing with Kendrick or Akhello Witherspoon as the primary outside cornerback? Contrarily, is he competing for a roster spot in general with guys like Shaun Jolly, Timarcus Davis, and Vincent Gray.
The Witherspoon signing should tell you what the Rams think of Rochell and that can’t be a good sign. It seems like he’ll be competing for a roster spot in training camp.
2023 Outlook and What to Expect
When it comes to Rochell in 2023, we really just need to see some growth. That should be the expectation. You could say his outlook and expectations were the same heading into last year. However, after taking an apparent step back, he could be on the chopping block.
A player of Rochell’s build with an arm length in the 81st percentile and wingspan in the 92nd percentile would be the perfect replacement for Ramsey. At the same time, Rochell needs to show that he can play up to that athleticism.
Chances of Making Final Roster
Rochell is far from a lock when it comes to making the final roster. With that said, he should still be a favorite, especially if the team keeps five cornerbacks. It’s certainly going to be interesting and there may be a surprise cut here. For right now, I’ll have Rochell sneaking onto the roster.
Final Roster Confidence: 6.5/10