Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams are firmly entrenched as the Los Angeles Rams starting cornerbacks. In fact, the duo makes up arguably the best duo in the NFL. But who is going to replace Troy Hill at nickelback? All I can say is don’t sleep on David Long Jr.
Ann Arbor To Los Angeles
Long Jr. was drafted in the third round with the 79th overall pick in 2019. He was praised for his press-man ability and his ability to offer inside/outside versatility. Listed at 5’11” and 196 lbs., he definitely has the requisite size to play in either role. With just 158 total snaps in coverage going into his third season it’s easy to see why he has been forgotten.
Replacing Troy Hill
The Rams seem to be impressed with Long Jr. this offseason even if he isn’t Troy Hill. Long Jr. was never going to be a day one starter. The Rams employ a lot of zone coverage schemes in their defense. Long Jr. played almost zero zone coverage during his time as a Michigan Wolverine. He was a press-man corner who was consistently in the hip pockets of receivers. Not to mention, corner is one of the hardest positions to transition to in all of sports. However, Sean McVay’s comments this offseason seem to point towards Long Jr. finally getting his shot to make some plays.
Not An Easy Transition
In two years as a starter at Michigan, Long Jr. only gave up 18 total catches on 60 total targets for a measly 30% completion percentage. He only gave up 130 total yards. Quarterbacks didn’t even want to throw his way as his allowed passer rating was just 24.3. The talent is there and the Rams have shown a propensity for developing talent in the secondary. Long Jr. was almost exclusively an outside, press-man corner in college and the Rams have transitioned him into a primarily slot corner in a heavy zone scheme.
Long Jr. should be the heavy favorite to win the third cornerback spot, in my opinion. He has a very good skill set and has been able to develop the last two years and is part of an extremely talented secondary overall. Don’t sleep on David Long Jr. If you are, you better wake up before he re-routes you.