With star cornerback Jalen Ramsey “very likely” to be traded, who will lead the way in the Los Angeles Rams’ secondary next season?
The Los Angeles Rams are just one year removed from winning the Super Bowl but now find themselves in the midst of a defensive overhaul.
Just days after parting ways with All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Rams are “very likely” to trade Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, per NFL Network.
With fellow corners Troy Hill and David Long Jr. set for free agency, Los Angeles finds itself in a less-than-ideal situation – and that’s not even factoring in the impending free agent departures of safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott.
But as it relates to the cornerbacks, who do the Rams have left?
Should Ramsey be traded, Los Angeles will have only five corners on its roster – Derion Kendrick, Decobie Durant, Grant Haley, Robert Rochell and Shaun Jolly.
While unlikely to impress the casual fan, Kendrick and Durant provide a sense of intrigue.
The duo gives the Rams a solid platform to build from; defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said the team compared Durant to Hill during the pre-draft process and he’s “done nothing but go out there and absolutely shine.”
A fourth-round pick last April, Durant had a strong rookie season in which he recorded three interceptions and five passes defended across 13 games.
It was a similar story for Kendrick, a sixth-round pick last year who played in 15 games with six starts and logged four passes defended. Morris admitted there were “growing pains” for Kendrick, who allowed 40 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns on 59 targets but still “did some really good things.”
And suddenly, it’s possible that within the span of 13 months, the Rams will go from Super Bowl champions to having their two best corners be Day 3 draft picks from the year before with just six starts apiece.
But underneath the surface, Kendrick and Durant proved they were capable players from the start of the offseason program last year, “burst(ing) on the scene,” per Morris – and provided enough flashes to inspire hope of a second-year breakout.
Elsewhere, Rochell, a fourth-round pick in 2021, left coach Sean McVay excited following a solid preseason but was limited to a special teams role, playing only two percent of Los Angeles defensive snaps with 26.
Haley spent time on the practice squad but showed up in a lot of positive ways, per McVay, who’s notedly a big supporter of the former Penn State Nittany Lion.
“Grant’s always been a guy that I’ve been a huge fan of since we got around him of the last couple years,” McVay said. “Just with his instincts, his feel, his short space quickness, his toughness that I think you’ve seen when he’s got an opportunity to play on special teams.”
Jolly, who went undrafted out of Appalachian State a season ago, was signed by the Rams off the Cleveland Browns practice squad ahead of Week 3. He played in two games, seeing six snaps on special teams but failing to record any statistics.
As things stand, the Rams certainly appear poised to add to their cornerbacks’ room ahead of OTAs, but regardless, Kendrick and Durant will be relied upon to take a step forward and could even ascend to leaders on the back end despite their relative youth.
But as Morris said, the duo has stood out since arriving last summer – and with a year under their belt, might just be ready to “shine” in a big way next season.
You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft
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