In March 2023, the Los Angeles Rams shocked the football world by trading star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. The move left many fans wondering how the Rams secondary would adjust to life without one of the league’s premier defensive players. In this article, we’ll examine the changes the Rams made to their secondary and analyze how they will navigate the post-Jalen Ramsey era.
Drafting New Talent
The Rams’ front office was well aware of the need to address the secondary following the trade of Ramsey. In the 2023 NFL Draft, they selected Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, a talented cornerback out of TCU. As the nephew of Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Hodges-Tomlinson has a football pedigree on his side. He also won the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award in his final collegiate season, given to the nation’s top defensive back. With his strong ball-hawking skills and ability to disrupt the passing game, Hodges-Tomlinson is expected to play a significant role in the Rams secondary.
Development of Young Cornerbacks
In addition to drafting Hodges-Tomlinson, the Rams will also rely on their young cornerbacks to step up in the absence of Ramsey. There’s a glimmer of hope, however, as the Rams do have a mix of players entering year two and guys ready to prove they can make the leap.
Cobie Durant was the standout of the Rams’ rookies last year. In year two, he could become something special at the top of the Rams depth chart. Opposite him, Robert Rochell is in a make-it-or-break-it year after appearing on the Rams injury report kept him off the field for his sophomore season after showing flashes as a rookie. There’s also Derion Kendrick who similarly to Rochell had his ups and downs.
Rams Secondary “Veteran” Presence
One of the main problems with this team’s secondary is the lack of experience. The longest-tenured corner currently on the roster is 2021 draftee Robert Rochell, who isn’t exactly the veteran presence Ramsey was. I’d expect them to bring in a veteran corner, simply due to the fact that there’s very little experience among the starters. Troy Hill on a vet minimum deal would probably be the most likely scenario.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will likely need to make some adjustments to his defensive schemes to account for the loss of Ramsey. Expect the Rams to employ more zone coverage, utilizing the strengths of their young cornerbacks and safeties. I don’t think the signature “bend not break” mentality is going away any time soon, unfortunately. This strategy will also put an emphasis on the pass rush, as getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks can help compensate for the lack of a lockdown corner like Ramsey.
The post-Jalen Ramsey era will undoubtedly present challenges for the Los Angeles Rams. However, by drafting new talent, developing their young cornerbacks, and relying on the experience of their veterans, the team is well-positioned to adjust and continue fielding a competitive defense. The main focus I think for them was to restructure for the future, not relying on Jalen alone to carry the secondary and letting the young guys develop. It will be fascinating to watch how the Rams’ secondary evolves during the 2023 season and beyond.