The Los Angeles Rams added two players to the Practice Squad (PS) this past week, signing cornerback Michael Ojemudia and defensive tackle Cory Durden to fill out that stable. The active roster stands at 50, leaving three openings to be filled.
Seeing that only 46 players can be active on game day and teams gets to elevate two players off the said PS each week, having less than the full 53-man roster is not a major point of contention. It does though, leave some room to speculate about future additions or possible upgrades. I’ll leave that for a mid-week article, today let’s take a look at the newest Rams.
Cornerback Michael Ojemudia
Drafted by the Denver Broncos at #77 of Round 3 in the 2020 NFL Draft, Ojemudia has battled numerous injuries over his young career. After earning 11 starts and playing in all 16 games (852 snaps) as a rookie, he started both 2021 and 2022 seasons on the Injured Reserve List. In ‘21, a bad hamstring injury that was originally reported as knee injury limited him two games and one start (85 snaps). ‘22 started with a dislocated elbow and in December he was waived by Denver and signed by the Chicago Bears. For the season, he played in four games and 26 total snaps, 24 of those on special teams.
As a draft prospect, Ojemudia came out of Iowa as a nice combination of size, length and athleticism. At the NFL Combine he measured in at almost 6’ 1”, 200 lbs., with arms a touch over 32”. His speed numbers were 4.45 in the forty, with a 1.56 10 yard split. In short area quickness and agility drills he timed a 6.87 3Cone and 4.21 shuttle. He leapt a 36” vertical and 10’ 2” broad and his RAS score was 9.15.
In college, Ojemudia was a productive boundary corner in a predominantly two-deep zone scheme and backed it up with an excellent Senior Bowl week. Even though he played “bail” style, most draft pundits projected him as an NFL “press” corner, likely because of his size and length. He has a smooth back pedal and keeps his eyes on the quarterback and was willing and able to come up in run support. As a pro, Ojemudia cut his early teeth in a Vic Fangio system at Denver, another zone based scheme.
Plays a patient style, gives cushion to the point of excess. Good not great closer on passes underneath but a competent tackler when he gets there. As a rookie, he forced four fumbles. His overall game is better than the individual pieces.
The highest-graded CB's in the Senior Bowl pic.twitter.com/Sjyazo9Vfd— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
Defensive Tackle Cory Durden
After not garnering a selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions signed Durden as an undrafted free agent for large $40k guaranteed salary. He started his college career with three seasons at Florida State and transferred to North Carolina State after the 2020 slate. In his two seasons with the Wolfpack, he was a 1st and 3rd team All-ACC selection.
Durden did not receive an invitation to the Combine. At his Pro Day, he stood 6’ 4” and tipped the scales at 290 lbs., with 10 1/8” hands and 33 1/2” arms. He posted mediocre athletic testing numbers. His forty time was 5.22 with a 1.90 split. In the 3Cone he clocked 7.56 and a 4.80 shuttle. In the the explosion drills, he recorded a 31” vertical, a 9’ 2” broad, and pushed 16 reps on the bench. His RAS score is 4.96.
Looks bigger on film than 290 lbs. and it has a been reported that he played in college at 315 lbs. He looks it on college film, thick in the mid-section, hips, and thighs. His positional versatility certainly fits in with the current Rams defensive linemen. At FSU, he played mostly 3 and 5T and after he moved north to NCSU, he spent most of his time on the nose or shading it. Although lacking athleticism, his non-stop motor and ball pursuit helps earn a lot of cleanup tackles ad sacks. While he doesn’t have a lot stylish moves, Durden does offer some inside pass rushing juice. He looks to win with a quick, powerful punch and his strength. How that power holds up at 25 lbs. less than his college days remains to be seen. Mike Renner at Pro Football Focus reported that entering his final college year, Durden led all returning defensive tackles with 45 quarterback pressures.
Any future for these two prospects?
In theory, Ojemudia might offer some “now” value after he gets a grasp of the defense. He has NFL starts under his belt and does offer up some size and athleticism although not much of a special teams history. It has been the injuries that have really held him back. Some of the down-side of having smaller defensive backs showed up in the 49er game, I think all but one of the tight coverages/contested catches went to the bigger/longer S.F. receivers.
Durden role is like DT #9, behind the active seven and Marquise Copeland on the practice squad. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Skill development and building up his strength and conditioning seem his future.