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In order to take next step in 2023, Cobie Durant must improve in key area

There is one major hole in the second-year CB’s game that must be fixed

Los Angeles Rams vs Atlanta Falcons Set Number: X164167 TK1

Outside of Aaron Donald, Jordan Fuller, and Ernest Jones, there aren’t many recognizable names on the defense for the 2023 Los Angeles Rams. One key player that the team is relying on to take a step forward in his second season is CB Cobie Durant.

Durant impressed during limited action as a rookie, and some would even go as far as saying he played better than standout Seattle Seahawks rookie Tariq Woolen. If the young corner is going to build upon his solid rookie season, he needs to improve in one key area: tackling.

Why tackling has become an issue for Durant:

Durant’s rookie season was limited to only 281 snaps as he battled injuries. He earned key playing time as early as Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons, where he recorded both his first career interception and first career sack against Marcus Mariota. We didn’t see him back on the field until Week 13.

Durant’s PFF coverage grade of 77.8 ranked second in the LA secondary behind only star CB Jalen Ramsey (77.8).

But his tackling numbers are a major cause for concern. per PFF tracking data, Durant had 21 tackle opportunities in 2022 and made the stop on 17 of those occasions—the other four were missed tackles. That represents a missed tackle percentage of 19%, meaning that Durant effectively missed one of every five tackles when presented the opportunity.

Of 136 cornerbacks with more than 20% snaps played last season, Durant’s 19% missed tackle rate ranked 118th.

It may not sound like much, but within the NFC West and playing often against players like San Francisco 49ers receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk where it only takes one missed tackle in order for them to rip off an explosive play.

While tackling doesn’t sound like an important facet in playing corner, this matters more for Durant than it might for others.

Why tackling is key, particularly for Durant:

As a rookie, Durant played 72% of his snaps from the box or the slot with the rest coming along the boundary. Slot corner is one of the most difficult positions in football, especially in today’s day and age where teams are able to design plays for specific players and easily create space. Slot corners don’t have the benefit of relying on the sideline in coverage, instead they must be prepared to either move towards the middle of the field, outside, vertical, or some combination of all the above.

The slot defender also plays an important part in the run game, which is one of the most significant benefits from having Ramsey playing the “star” role and inside—he is one of the most physical tacklers at the cornerback position across the NFL.

This means Durant will certainly be tested as a tackler in the run game, and until he proves that he can reliably make the play opposing offenses will seek him on out—which could be very problematic against physical running teams like the Seahawks and 49ers.

The defense needs Cobie Durant to grow into a leader in the secondary, despite only entering his second season in 2023. If he’s going to take the next step forward in his young career, he must improve as a tackler. There’s plenty of room to grow from his rookie season where he missed effectively one in every five tackle attempts.